The year 2020 has not been a good for local entrepreneurs. The majority are stupefied at how radically things have changed since the first case of Covid-19 was announced in Kenya in March this year.
More so, every entrepreneur dreads how the next couple of months will look like as Kenya’s – and the global economy – shrinks. The International Monetary Fund has already released a gloomy forecast that anticipates Kenya’s economic growth to shrink by over half the six per cent that was recorded last year.
But this is not the time to start blaming the gods. There is so much that women entrepreneurs can do to embrace the disruption of coronavirus and adopt new ways of doing business to stay afloat.
Veronica Nyabuto, the Director of Luxe International Limited and the founder of Verushka Wigs, says the cluster of women entrepreneurs who will survive the impact of coronavirus is that which will quickly adopt the new trading normal.
This will entail repositioning your team and developing new strategies on how to meet your clients’ needs. "As much as businesses are adapting to the new normal, digitisation, training, teamwork and adaptation are critical to weathering the storm," Nyabuto said during the webinar forum held by Zuhura Africa dubbed Covid-19: Women entrepreneurs embracing the disruption.
To withstand the pandemic’s recession, find out the financial concessions you can get that will act as stop gap measures before things get back to normal. For instance, you can seek out relief from your lender if you have a bank loan.
Local banks have been engaging borrowers requiring an interest moratorium period, better loan structure, and longer loan repayment period.
They have also been providing additional funding to manage the crisis. By the first week of this month, Kenya’s seven largest banks had already restructured loans worth Sh176 billion.
“By seeking loan restructuring, you will be asking your lender to change the terms of the credit facility in a number of ways, including one or a combination of suspending the interest you pay, principal, change of collateral, or extension of agreed tenor. All these are aspects that can give your business some breathing space,” says Elizabeth Nyayieka, a business coach and financial markets analyst.
Negotiate with your landlord for better rent payment terms, and if your business depends on supplies, have a crisis payment work plan with your suppliers.
Cash flow is king in your business. You must seek new ways of reactivating your old sources of cash inflow, while carving out new ways to bring in new cash.
According to Valentine Njoroge, the founder and chief executive officer of Dadasphere Media Limited, curling up in a fetal position as you wait for business to move from breech to normal is the last thing you want to do.
“Stop looking at this pandemic as ‘my problem’. Instead, go back to the drawing board and look at where revenue will come from,” she said.
TAKE UP TECHNOLOGY
For instance, does your business get stock supplies from the Eastleigh business hub, which is under lockdown? Does your business rely on cargo importations from China or Turkey?
What alternatives can you adopt to stay afloat in the meantime? What government passes may you need from June 6 to access goods should the lockdown and cessation of movement to and from Nairobi persist?
"Women in SME’s need to embrace technology, look for new markets, and communicate with stakeholders,” Nnena Nabwofu, the acting director-general of Africa Development Bank’s East Africa regional development office says.
The majority of people are now meeting over zoom. Find out what zoom is and how you can exploit it to your advantage.
"As a business owner you need to upscale your skills through online training tools like the global online learning platforms known as Coursera and Edx," Felicia Muriuki, the owner and managing director of Sherecare Limited said.
Find new ways of marketing your business too. Follow and align with the search trends to market your business.
“Adjust your business messaging and imagery. If you are in the tours and travel sector, advertising a trip may not be very effective right now. But you can write enticing posts about previous adventure trips that you have organized to whet future appetite. Don’t go blank. Align your messaging with topical trends to maintain your business presence,” says Nyayieka.
If you have an adequate cash pool, you may want to consider the distress sales that pop up during pandemics as a business alternative.
These sales, ranging from properties to stocks come at heavy discounts during pandemics, but skyrocket as the economy emerges from a recession.
“Buy when everyone is afraid and sell when everyone is greedy,” renowned global investor Warren Buffett is famously quoted as saying.