The Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, Bolaji Balogun, said that though the Coronavirus pandemic has caused numerous health and economic challenges Nigerians should always remember that crises also create opportunities.
He disclosed this during a Q&A session at the Workshift online conference organised by Liberty Church, London, as he laid emphasis on available opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) amid the pandemic.
According to him, this is the right time for business owners to reflect inwards, carry out some critical analysis of their businesses, and answer some important questions. Some of these questions include the following:
- How can I keep my business running amid this pandemic and its economic fallouts?
- How can I ensure cash flow, no matter how little?
- How can I manage costs (if need be) and still ensure that I’m delivering on margin?
- Are there services or products that can help me to reinvent myself such that while everyone else is fretting, I can still be earning income?
He then focused on the last question by giving numerous examples of how businesses can reinvent in order to adapt during this period. For instance, companies that primarily make clothes may consider switching over to sowing clothe masks which are in serious demands right now. Such companies can also consider producing bedsheets for hospitals “because almost certainly, at a time like this, hospitals aren’t going to be using and re-using bedsheets. They will be using bedsheets and disposing of them because if the highly-infectious nature of the virus.
“I think the first thing is to recognise that every Crisis must not be wasted and in every crisis, there is an opportunity. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the people who have turned themselves to opportunists who started off n95 masks at N2000 and are now selling those same n95 masks at N5000 to N6000. I think that is a bit of opportunism at the wrong time. And that is not something which, in itself, brings sustainable prosperity,” he said.
He also spoke more on cutting down on costs, stressing that it is absolutely essential at this point. He did, however, note that for SMEs (which are a large source of employment in Nigeria), this may be a difficult time to manage costs. This is because there are really no existing support systems for these SMEs. Even the palliatives announced by the government are not enough.
What this means, therefore, is that businesses must watch their costs. He warned against spending money on things that are not necessary. He said:
“It should also be recognised that this is a time when everybody should watch their costs. So, absolutely don’t spend money on things that are unnecessary. This is also not a time to be investing, unless you are investing in technology that allows you to do your business, or investing in data. This is absolutely not a time to be investing. Slow down on investment. Keep cash as much as possible.
“It’s also a time when you have to look at your people and make some honest decisions. And those honest decisions require a lot of open communication with your people. There will be many scenarios where people will tell you that ‘you know what hat, it may be easier for all of us to take 50% pay cut rather than firing 30% to 40% of the workforce.”
You may watch the rest of the CEO’s comments by clicking here.