The game changers: how entrepreneurs and businesses are fighting COVID-19

Harmony Seyram ATTISE

The effect of global leadership has been questioned by experts and ordinary citizens amid the COVID-19 crisis. Whether leaders have met expectations of managing the pandemic effectively would be something to look into at the end of the crisis.

Crisis management has never been a challenge for many entrepreneurs in running their day to day multi-billion business activities. Sure enough, to run a business isn’t the same as dealing with a public crisis – you would concur, but both deal with people management. Today’s pandemic has proven the effective leadership skills of many businessmen rising to the challenge.

Successful entrepreneurs are known to be philanthropists more than many governments are generous to their citizens. Frontline entrepreneurs around the globe responding to the COVID-19 situation have received praises, while some governments are yet to find their feet to face the disease.

A brief look into effective leadership

“Leadership implies values. A leader must have values that are life-giving to society. It is the only kind of leadership we need,” – Sandra Larson, Minneapolis, MN.

In this crisis, a critical need for value is imperative for the general survival of people around the world – employees, households and even governments. The impact of the disease is undeniably devastating and has left many people in an aught situation with little hope in their government. A leader in this crisis has to think out of the box, like the entrepreneur to come up with effective strategies that can help readvance the economy and provide relief for citizens.

Effective communication, which is significant in managing the coronavirus has had leaders failing to adequately communicate vital information for citizens to have a better understanding of the pandemic. The Chinese government received backlash for failing to communicate the actual figures of virus’ outbreak to citizens. President Trump is another leader under fire for his lack of communication and transparency – his recent feud with medical experts for miscommunicating and endorsing unproven drug for the treatment of the disease is a clear example of an inactive leadership.

A moment for entrepreneurs – businesses taking a shift

Businesses are making huge donations towards the crisis to supplement their governments’ efforts. Ethiopia and Rwanda were the first African countries to receive the first batch of coronavirus test kits and prevention materials donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and to 54 African countries. Rwandan president expressed gratitude and described the gesture as a huge shot in the arm.

Another Chinese billionaire, CEO of Zoom, also donated PPEs worth billions to support Italy. Even a Russian company, sanctioned by the US, had ventilators shipped to New York.

In the local front, other prominent entrepreneurs like Nigerian’s Dangote and other billionaires including Tony Elumelu, donated billions of Naira to support the Nigerian government. Ghana also had some entrepreneurs and local businesses stepping up to donate products and preventive materials to help the government.

The world without these generous entrepreneurs would have resulted in a higher death toll since various governments have failed to match speeches with realities. Governments and leaders could not have lived to expectations if not for the active invention of these entrepreneurs.

During the inception of the pandemic, many businesses exploited vulnerable customers into profitability without offering any real value – but in the heat of the crisis, following the widespread of the disease, leading brands have taken to critical innovation, altering productions, and in some cases paused manufacturing to respond to the world’s needs. With countries showing a glimmer of hope – recording less number of cases and deaths, governments and businesses can continue to work in synergy for a better result against the pandemic.

Hats off to the major brands, and businesses setting the pace for governments.

The world needs innovation and critical thinkers

The world more than ever need thinktank and creative minds to develop solutions to the present crisis. Businesses are rising to the challenge and critically reinventing their brands to help fight the virus.

For example, alcohol-production companies started producing hand sanitizers using their core products as the base. Now, that’s the level of innovation the world needs to fight the crisis. Ghana’s local alcohol production company, Kasapreko, also announced a change in its production to hand sanitizers when the country woke up to a shortage of sanitizers in the market and a hike in prices.

Virgin Orbit, the Long Beach-based satellite launch company, plans to start producing ventilators designed for partially recovered coronavirus patients in early April. Virgin Orbit said, it has developed a “bridge ventilator,” a medical device that can be mass-produced and is different from the costly ones used in intensive care units. The bridge ventilators can free up critical resources for the illest, according to the company.

How other businesses can join to fight the disease

  1. Many businesses should repurpose their production lines to join the fight against the coronavirus.
  2. Businesses should avoid the different levels of complexity in initiating a shift
  3. Non-manufacturing industries can level up business activities to ensure continuity.
  4. Retailers can move away from physical stores to digital customer service channels which now, creating a boom for delivery companies.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures – businesses are reacting proactively to pivot innovative steps, and keep revenue generation steady.

Economic depression – how business and governments can win

The pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for many businesses and governments. The synergy between the two would aid in solving the economic recession experts predicted in the second quarter. At this point, governments can’t single-handedly ride the impact of the pandemic to recover without business supports.

  1. Governments can provide financial support for manufacturing companies to make flexible shifts in producing materials that can help fight the disease – like the preventive equipment and testing kits.
  2. Governments should offer businesses tax exceptions to help improve the resilience of their supply chain and leads.
  3. A public-private partnership can be boosted for a quicker economic recovery.
  4. Regulatory approvals which are a key challenge for manufacturing companies, can be fast-tracked for businesses to meet demands for the materials needed to fight the virus.

Smaller brands can also reposition to make an impact

Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. Even though the world is currently facing a major pandemic, influences of business leaders rising to the frontline to provide interventions give opportunities to other businesses to recreate their brands and position themselves to offer value – competition doesn’t end at the peak of a crisis.

Some few questions to first assess.

  1. What can your business offer the world now and for the post-COVID-19?
  2. What will make your business or solution be a good fit?
  3. How do you meet the world’s need at the other end of the crisis?
  4. Is your solution sustainable?
  5. Does the point of differentiation link to the current global situation?
  6. Will your solution resonate with people affected by a pandemic?

The world is going to look forward to businesses that can fast-forward their lives when the pandemic ends. Don’t serve as a solution to every loss – differentiate from need and want. Create a distinctive target and solve a need.

The first step in positioning your brand is to understand these four markets:

  1. Existing market
  2. New Entrants
  3. Re-segmentation of an existing market
  4. Re-segmentation of an existing market by employing a niche strategy

The category of your brand’s service or product falls depends on your competitive strategy.

No successful business would have been where it is today without active leadership in times of crisis. It’s almost always the main primary force for business growth and economic development – businesses moving in to support governments are a step in the right direction to further improve the brand’s standing.

>>>The writer is the CEO of Commec Group, a business development consultancy. She is a multiple award winning Business Development Consultant and a Writer. For business and engagements: [email protected] /

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