When the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak began to gain global momentum in March, economists and development experts feared for the inevitable global economic meltdown. This was as government efforts to protect citizens from the deadly virus included stringent lockdown measures, the closure of land borders and airway travels.
The movement restrictions that came with the pandemic invariably took a harsh toll on many economies as businesses and events were put on hold for several months. Although this has practically dragged many economies into recession, some businesses have moved to reinvent themselves in the face of the devastating crisis.
In a recent report, Folake Akindele-Coker, founder of Lagos-based fashioned brand, Tiffany Amber, discussed how her company reinvented itself. With plans to stay solvent, employ more staff and make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available in the Nigerian market, the company had to shift its production focus. Instead of luxury outfits, it began to produce hospital scrubs, gowns, stretcher sheets and non-medical face masks to meet the country’s demand.
Tiffany Amber’s “expertise in garment production helped facilitate this shift to bridge the gap in the supply of medical apparel,” said Folake, who also acts as the company’s chief executive. Changes were made in less than a month after the pandemic reached Africa, causing staff growth of 300 percent.
Similarly, chains of fast-food restaurants like Chicken Republic, Sweet Sensation and Mr Biggs have moved from sit-in services to home deliveries. In partnership with Jumia Food, these sit-in restaurants have been able to meet customer demands while retaining a large percent of their staff and driving economic activities.
E-commerce giant, Jumia, launched its food unit in 2012 with the goal of meeting the food needs of customers via collaboration with local restaurants at an affordable cost. Across Africa, its platform has 4,000 restaurants offering everything from local cuisine to international fast food, from the likes of KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.
Aside from shifts among some established brands in various industries of the Nigerian economy, there has also been an increase in innovative shifts among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Social media and technology have become a game-changer for the growth of SMEs and recruiting companies.
Through the use of social media and technology, many SMEs have successfully delivered goods and services to customers at home. Even recruiters have successfully conducted interviews, trained and employed staff via the use of technology. So far, businesses in Nigeria and across Africa which have been able to think outside the box have been staying solvent in these times.