Specialist management company Redflank on August 27 launched the BeyondCOVID initiative, which aims to help businesses in the country "embrace solidarity and survive the impact of Covid-19", by shaping their responses to challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic and setting them up for the future beyond the pandemic.
The initiative was brought about by a BeyondCOVID Business Survey, wherein the company saw the challenges facing business and wanted to provide a guideline for them to mitigate this, cofounder Lings Naidoo said during the launch webinar.
The full findings of the survey and the business survival strategies aiming to mitigate the impacts, gleaned from the results, are documented in a free BeyondCOVID Playbook, which will be available from September 1.
Naidoo emphasised that the playbook was not a manual for companies to follow to get them out of their present situation, but rather a guideline, backed by case studies, for how companies can respond to the situation and mitigate the challenges or build on positives.
Naidoo added that the BeyondCOVID initiative was about mitigating the impact of the pandemic and lockdown and building business resilience.
Moreover, it aims to serve as a grassroots movement focusing on helping businesses that requires assistance, by linking the ‘haves’ with the ‘have-nots’ to provide funding.
He encouraged individuals or business that were in positions to assist to do so through a number of ways, including sponsorships, industry partnerships, volunteering or participating in think tanks.
Redflank will be hosting monthly think tanks, bringing together people from across sectors to engage on solutions for businesses to ensure resilience.
Naidoo indicated that the survey results had painted a bleak picture of where business was at the moment, with the average respondent expecting the economy to only recover to pre-pandemic levels in about three to four years' time.
The survey collected data from June 7 to August 22, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
There were over 1 800 respondents. All sectors were covered, and the survey is representative of the entire spectrum of business from small to large and not-for-profits, noted Naidoo.
Small to microbusinesses were the most affected in terms of operating capacity during the pandemic, while large business were the least affected.
In terms of sectors, as expected, the health and social work sector saw increased operating capacity during the pandemic.
The financial services, professional services and real estate sectors fared the best in terms of business as usual, while the public sector, retail and accommodation and food fared the worst in terms of reduced capacity.
Permanent closures were seen the most in personal services, accommodation and food, agriculture and retail.
Entertainment and recreation were the most affected in terms of temporarily closed businesses.
In terms of revenue impact, small to micro businesses were, once again, impacted the most. Notably, the public sector was the least affected, managing to hold on to revenue.
The top five impacted sectors in terms of revenue were accommodation and food, construction, entertainment and recreation, other services and retail.
The least impacted sectors were the public sector, financial services, and health and social work.
In terms of retrenchments, the five most affected sectors were accommodation and food, other services, entertainment and recreation, construction and education.
The five least affected sectors were financial services, public sector, health and social work, mining and professional services.
Looking ahead, Naidoo said one in four businesses believe that, to survive the next 12 months, they require funding to cover half of their costs for that period. Large businesses expect to be the least impacted in terms of funding, with the public sector expected to feel the most strain.
In terms of planned retrenchments looking ahead, businesses are not optimistic, which means that about 1.5-million people or more could lose their jobs in the next six months.
The sectors most affected in this regard are accommodation and food, construction and manufacturing.
Naidoo noted that the latter was worrying, given that a robust manufacturing sector was required to bolster economic growth for the country.
The least affected sectors in terms of planned retrenchments are mining, financial services, health and social work and education.
One positive that can be taken away from the survey is in the digital space, with several companies indicating that some staff could work from home permanently, which will engender a balance between life and work; and will assist in mainstreaming digitalisation in the workplace.