The Outlook Newsletter April 2020

Page 1

You Are Reading Vol. 09 Issue. 5

April, 2020

Stay Home Stay Safe

‘Bailout small biz,’ SBA chief urges

Government to move with alacrity to be able to address this relief fund for the sector.�

 the loss of staff and revenue and about 50 per cent of them feared their operation would close in a matter of weeks, she said.

A bailout for micro and small businesses worth $10 to $15 million is urgently needed as they continue to buckle under the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA) Senator Lynette Holder pleaded today. Likening the sector’s need for help to the economy being at the brink of collapse, Holder told Barbados TODAY she saw no reason Government could not provide some help to a sector that was now “severely hurting�. Holder declared that some small firms have already closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while several others are on the verge of collapse and are crying out for urgent relief. blank space blank space She said: “I am saying a relief fund in the order of $10 to $15 million in the first instance. I know Barbados is in an International Monetary Fund programme but I am satisfied that the same way we can find funding and support for other key sectors, and rightfully so, we have to do it for micro and small firms that contribute to the employment generation to this country and make a significant impact not only economically but socially.� blank space The latest figures on small businesses from over three years ago showed that there were more than 9,000 registered firms in Barbados. Just over half of them at the time employed between five and 25 people and the rest at the time had fewer than five workers. blank A recent short survey of some SBA members to gauge the likely impact of COVID-19 showed that 88 per cent of businesses feared

The SBA CEO told Barbados TODAY that the sector was urgently in need of a bailout to help them at least over the next six to eight weeks. She said: “We need to have this relief fund set up as a matter of urgency, that can support those micro and small firms. “This has a serious social implication because they can’t work, many of them are not considered essential services, many of them are in the category of firms that have to close during this two-week [curfew] period. “Mind you, it is for two weeks now, but it might very well be a further two weeks by the time we get to April 14 and heading into May. So we are speaking realistically about a good six to eight weeks where these firms are going to lose significant revenue, and we need support for the sector.� Holder also said that while the commercial banks will give a moratorium on loans and mortgages, many micro and small firms did not have those arrangements with commercial banks but with government funding agencies. As such, she reiterated her call for those agencies to be “included in the moratorium to give some relief to those at the lower level in this structure that have loans from them�. blank space blank space bl Holder said she did not believe the IMF would disagree if Government wanted to provide up to $15 million to save the sector during this difficult time, especially given its importance to employment and economic contribution. blank space Not providing financial relief would not only be “fool hardy� but would “have a greater deleterious effect upon us than the COVID-19 itself�, she argued. “For sure we need to have that support for the sector right now. It is hurting, severely hurting. So the SBA is calling on

Senator Dr. Lynette Holder

The SBA head also called on the Barbados Light & Power Company to grant micro and small business firms relief from paying their electricity bills for “at least three months�. “All of our firms will right now see a reduction in revenue. It is no debate on that and the major costs for businesses as you know are staff, rent, utilities and some have loans,� she said. blank space blank sp “Yes, we are calling for 100 per cent, but if we can’t get 100 per cent look at 50 per cent or some sort of significant reduction for at least a three-month period to be able to provide some relief. I don’t think the Barbados Light and Power don’t have the reserve that they can do something like this.� Holder said the SBA had already made the case for the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and other landlords to give relief to micro and small business firms. blank space blank space bla She warned: “My concern right now is going through this period, going through the next two months and trying to mitigate the fallout of micro and small firms to the extent that they are unable to recover. That is my major concern. I feel that the next two months have to be about survival, have to be about stopping small firms from falling through the cracks.� blank (Article taken from the Barbados Today E-Paper on March 31, 2020.) blank

The SBA Plays its Part in the Fight Against COVID-19 In light of the impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic climate of Barbados, the Small Business Association (SBA) held two informative sessions for small business practitioners to assess the implications arising for the sector and to better ready themselves. blank

Despite the number of cases presently recorded for Barbados being relatively low in comparison to countries like the United States of America, the PAHO representative stressed the necessity of prevention as there is still no known cure for the disease. Dr. Gebre encouraged attendees to realise the necessity of slowing the spread of the disease to ensure that the public health system does not become overwhelmed and collapse.

PAHO advisor for the Caribbean in water, sanitation and environmental health, Mr. Adrianus Vlugman, addressing attendees

SBA members listening attentively at the first COVID-19 sensitisation session

At the first session, small business owners were advised to prepare for the worst as the nation saw its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 and to implement critical strategic plans and procedures to ensure their firm’s survival. In addition to this, the SBA team conducted a survey to capture the key concerns of small business owners in relation to the coronavirus which would enable the association to lobby effectively for appropriate solutions to the crisis at hand for the small business sector. blank space Representative of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Yitades Gebre, also presented attendees with credible international data on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths recorded worldwide. blank

and information to safeguard themselves and others while on the job. blank space blank

Representative of the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr. Yitades Gebre making his presentation

To do this, Dr. Gebre stated that all persons should engage in the standard precautionary measures outlined by PAHO and the Ministry of Health including staying at home, cleaning your hands, engaging in social distancing, raising your immunity, the correct use of masks and avoiding fake news. The second session was led by advisor from PAHO in water, sanitation and environmental health, Mr. Adrianus Vlugman and provided front-line workers including food handlers, taxi drivers and janitors, with practical tips

Additionally, persons in the janitorial service industry were also given a short demonstration on how to correctly apply and remove personal protective equipment for their safety. blank space blank space blank Since the hosting of these sessions, the state of affairs have changed locally to reflect the growing number of confirmed cases, resulting in the closure of all non-essential businesses. Despite this, the Small Business Association remains committed to guiding the sector through this process of uncertainty, as the world emerges from this global pandemic. blank blank space blan As a result, members can look forward to online webinars and the sharing of other useful information via the association’s social media platforms in the months to come. blank

The New Normal for Small Business business are now being forced to alter their operational strategies to include various approaches like working remotely, enhanced digital marketing, the use of e-commerce platforms and the offering of delivery services. The world is now online more than ever before, and so is business.

The coronavirus has undoubtedly shaken the lives of everyone across the globe whether socially or economically and has tested the levels of preparedness for such a crisis in almost every nation. Equally so, the small business sector both locally and regionally has seen a major test regarding its readiness for what the future holds. Many business owners who were once reluctant to adapt to the changing trends in

Arguably, these huge shifts in the way we now conduct business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will pave the way for a more technologically inclined business environment. However, there is definitely no question that businesses will no longer be able to drag their feet or maintain archaic policies if they wish to retain and grow their customer base after the pandemic has died down. blank Customers will now be even more demanding as it relates to the luxuries of online shopping and will gravitate towards the firms willing to be most flexible in accommodating them. Compounding this issue, will be the new surge in online businesses which will emerge as persons who

were laid off try to create alternate sources of income, further saturating the market and increasing competition. blank space blank sp As a result, it will be imperative for small business practitioners to truly reevaluate their business models and formulate plans which encourage swift adaptability to trends and profitable investments in technology, if they wish to make it out alive. ank space blank Small business owners should also reexamine their goods and services and the likely demand for these products once the pandemic is over. Similar to those businesses that modified their product offerings to satisfy the need for masks and hand sanitisers in this crisis, the best way forward is to identify a foreseeable area of demand and prepare to dominate that market when businesses are permitted to reopen. Does your business have a gameplan? k space

Members’ Corner Business Tips to Get you Through the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Finance 1. Get familiar with, and take advantage of, any financial concessions available to you and/or your business from banks, government and other private sector businesses. This should help you better manage cash flow until you recover. You should also be aware of the payment deadlines that are being postponed rather than forgiven. 2. Consider secure but accessible methods of transmitting financial data to internal and external team members.

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3. Very important: develop a response plan in case a similar scenario repeats itself! Your plan should include considerations towards online banking; emergency cash storage; HR policies; communications to employees, customers, suppliers and creditors; and remote working platforms.

Human Resource Management 1. Communicate - frequent check-ins by telephone, video platform or WhatsApp will be important. Your team will remember your behavior towards them in this crisis. 2. Develop a rallying cry – a central purpose and message to create clarity for the business during this period. 3. Be empathetic, understanding and positive; it is a tough time but we will get through it! 4. Be creative and innovative – use the time to assess the company’s strengths and opportunities for growth. 5. Admit if you don’t have all the answers – collaborate with others in the business community.

Strategic Planning 1. Monitor your plan daily and seek flexibility. Our new reality will require a daily focus on how we will adjust our plans and operations to allow us to function effectively in this time. It may require adapting to new technologies to maintain contact with and to meet the needs of our customers. It may also require us to introduce new business procedures which can or may lead to the establishment of partnerships with other complementary businesses where feasible and prudent. 2. Financial prudence is a must. The strain caused by this ongoing and possibly protracted situation, reinforces the fact that we should all endeavour to have emergency funds set aside not only as individuals but for our businesses as well. In addition, we must maintain positive relationships with financial institutions as we may be required to lean on them more heavily during times of crisis and become more proactive when making investments in proven technologies.

Marketing 1. Your business must sell to survive. Yes, you should continue to market your business, but you may have to adjust your message. 2. Don't be tone-deaf to the COVID-19 situation. Ensure that you provide value for money, bearing in mind the current emotional state of your audience. Be sensitive to their concerns. These are scary times for everyone. 3. Adapt your message to the situation. Tell a story, be relatable and above all, show your audience how your product or service can solve their problem(s). 4. Use social media more! During curfew, people will be online more. Don’t waste the opportunity! You may need to rethink how you spend your advertising budget, as boosted posts can be much more cost effective than newspaper or radio advertising.

Members’ Information Webinar

Small Business ASSOCIATION

The New Normal: The Advent of E-Business 3:00pm - 4:00pm Friday, April 24, 2020



Mr. Dwight Robinson

Assistant Manager in Risk Advisory, Deloitte


Sen. Dr. Lynette Holder Chief Executive Officer, Small Business Association

- How to effectively work from home - What technologies are available to make remote work easier - What cybersecurity risks should be considered when working remotely

To Register:

Email: or visit

How to Effectively Work From Home

Dr. Biz

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