With all countries in Africa now confirming cases of COVID-19 as of this week, governments are taking strong preventive measures to slow the spread of the disease, protect their citizens, and reduce pressure on fragile health systems. The resulting lockdowns, curfews, and travel restrictions are creating huge challenges for the millions of small businesses across Africa – but especially those whose customers are in poor rural areas and rely on these companies for jobs, products, and services.
At AECF, we have been reaching out to each of our investee companies to understand their situation, provide specialist support and try and alleviate the pressures they are facing to survive as a business and protect jobs and livelihoods.
Surviving a crisis with business continuity plans
In April, we hosted the first in a series of webinars on one of the most important steps to take during a crisis: developing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). Planning business continuity is essential for businesses if they want to be able to survive during and after the crisis.
A good business continuity plan helps to:
- Sustain business processes during disruptions that could negatively impact normal operations of a business, its partners, stakeholders and clients;
- Achieve an orderly operational recovery and avoid chaos;
- Reduce operational delays during these disruptions;
- Provide a sense of security to organizational personnel; and
- Protect institutional assets and personnel and give your company a chance to outlive the disruption.
The attendance of our webinar sessions exceeded our expectations, clearly highlighting the need for anxious entrepreneurs and business owners in the renewable energy and agribusiness sectors, to share their concerns. Most of the worries were recurring and focused on liquidity negotiations, interest and principal payments, staff retention, sale of products and managing the supply chain.
Hearing the numerous constraints confirmed our belief in the need to plan for business continuity and, while many had already taken numerous steps to organize their business’ survival, it was important to understand that it should be done in a carefully planned and well-articulated way.
We will remain at our investees’ side by providing them with technical and other critical assistance. Now more than ever, our investees, and the communities they sustain, need us.