During my last talk dubbed 2020 marketing trends, i spent a considerable time talking to participants about the impact coronavirus will have on businesses in particular, and the economy in general. Far from scaring anyone, my intention was to alert people so that we are all able to take timely precautions, and hopefully survive this pandemic. It is my hope that those who attended did take the necessary precautions.
Since the confirmation of the coronavirus in the country, panic has been the primary emotion for many people and yet, they are many other opportunities one can take advantage of. On top of my mind is the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

With China being on a lock down, we now have the opportunity to regain our past glory, by creating our own materials and developing markets, without worrying about China offering the same at a lower price or providing better incentives. In the agriculture sector, guess what? This goes without saying that we still needs to eat. They are opportunities for many other sectors. As a company, we continue to provide psychotherapy sessions. We still have counselling sessions every single day. We have had to make some adjustments in our training calendar and re-strategize, but we continue working remotely for now, as per the Government’s directives.

Truth is our economy does not allow us to stop working. Africa is a different continent. Unlike Europe where specific funds have been allocated to citizens to alleviate and manage the impact of the coronavirus, our reality differs. Our Governments have loans, the economy was already on its knees and so, people will have to work. However, it is time to think about working more intelligently, which varies from organizations to organizations. I, however, applaud our African states for quickly realising how disadvantaged we are as an economy, and taking certain steps to control the situation. Kenya, Rwanda, Cote D'Ivoire are among the African countries who have already closed they schools to avoid spreading the virus. France and the UK closed their schools this week. We must give credit where due: a heartfelt congratulation to our head of states.

As we continue managing the situation, we appreciate the fact that SMEs are the most vulnerable, despite being the biggest employers in the world. We are however reminded that it is through fire that irons sharpen, and that iron sharpens iron. God is still on His throne.
As SMEs, this is the right time to get closer to your customers, listen to their preoccupations, and show your 'human side' if you had not already. You want to make sure that your customers do not forget you.

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You also want to speak to other entrepreneurs and understand what they are currently doing in the wake of the coronavirus. Listen, learn and strategize. Many businesses will fail, yet some will strive.

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Make sure to have cash at hand and continue to be prudent with your spending.

Find out if your bank offers loans such as overdraft or economic injury disaster loans (if applicable) to help you manage the unknown. Banks do want to give loans because the interest rate helps run their businesses. But they need to lend to a credit worthy customer.

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Have you joined your professional associations? If you haven't, now is the time to.
These professional bodies act on behalf of their members, and play the role of advocacy in front of government and other stakeholders. In France, for example, thanks to the lobbying,  the private sector was able to  influence a law that temporarily stops companies from paying rent, water, gas and electricity. This will ensure continuous operation of SMEs without the worry of unpaid bills.
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Most importantly remain calm and prayerful. The coronavirus is not a dead sentence. It is a challenge and in every challenge, lies opportunities. God bless us all!