Our daily way of lifehas been disrupted!The resulting social and financial outcomes being among others business closures, job loss, halted classroom studies, overwhelmed healthcare systems; not to mention the shutting down of industries that are solely the source of livelihood for millions of families across the world. Some companies have been forced to incorporate pay-cuts and unpaid leaves in their business continuity plans, at least to try to remain afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. On a larger scale, the export and import sectors have come crumbling down, as nations continue shutting their borders to curb the spread of the novel virus.
According to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA)in its Economic Framework for COVID-19 response, thecrisis will have severe impact on economies across the world. Kenya’s 2020 GDPgrowth rate isexpected to drop by -51%, from a forecast of 6.1% to a meager 3.0%.Among economic sectors experiencing reduced demand include manufacturing (non-essential), education, tourism and leisure, aviation and maritime, all of which generally contribute a great deal to the growth of Kenya’s real output growth. Essential services like agriculture, manufacturing of essential items, medical supplies and services, healthcare, ICT, e-Commerce, food processing and retail have on the other hand registered increased demand in the country.
The national apex body of the private sector has further stated that massive job loss is another blow dealt to the Kenyan economy; with a likely loss of 1.5M to 3.4M jobs in the short term. The range is highly dependent on impact in agriculture and tourism.
For most, stuff has already hit the fan. But while all hope may seem to be in the verge of being lost, the business community inthe country is increasingly taking the moral high ground, uniting to help mitigate the negative effects of Covid-19 to the public, especially the most vulnerable communities.
“We understand our obligations to the communities where we live and work, and during this time, we have stepped up our efforts to ensure they deal with the challenges of food and hygiene. The journey has been tough, and to make it more impactful, we have partnered with fellow companies; public and private sector players, that share same interests with us, to uplift the members of our communities,” says Vimal Shah, Chairman – Bidco Africa.
For these businesses, the disruption of trade and supply chains does not mean vulnerable communities being left to the mercy of the killer virus and its harsh effects. Instead, it means coming together to lift each other from this historic social and economic mire. Logistics/courier companies partnering up with supermarkets to offerfree and increased delivery of essential items to homes to limit people movement and thus flatten the curve. It means donating hygieneproducts to parts of the country where citizens have limited access to healthcare.Donating food stuffs to feed children whose only source of meal was the school feeding programs, which have since been closed as a result of the crisis.
The launch of a Business Community PartnerUp platform by Sustainable Inclusive Business, a KEPSA foundation that prides itself as the knowledge center for businesses in Kenya, is bringing organizations together toexpress their needs or share their initiatives towards a common force for good;in the fight against the Corona virus menace.
“For instance, farmers struggling to keep afloat in the current crisis, can now sell through organizations which are in return using theproduce to feed vulnerable families,” says the foundation’s Director,Karin Boomsma, adding that“The platform plays a critical role in showcasing the power of community.Itchallengesbusinesses toadopt interdependency sensible approaches that will help them remain resilient in times of crisis.”
The coronavirus pandemic has given us a chance to critically look at our economic structure, appreciate its strengths and weaknesses and partner for the betterment of our society. We all have a role to play, and the private sector is laudably stepping up, using creativity, innovation, agility and long-term systemic thinkingto provide practical support to both the government and the society at such an unprecedented time.
If the cooperation being witnessed is anything to go by, then Kenya is indeed in the right track towards becoming both economically and socially sustainable post covid-19. We know not the end, nor the ending of this Coronavirus crisis. So, while we all still have the chance, may we strive to make the world a better place to co-exist, now and in future; caring not only for profits, but also for the planet and people.