Various reports show how the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected people’s lives; their health, social and economic aspects.
This impact has also been huge on businesses around the world. Both small and big businesses are experiencing tremendous changes that need urgent strategies if they are to be mitigated.
It is in this line that a part of the 22nd Africa Arise and Shine Conference 2021, which was held virtually from 11 to 18 July under the theme, ‘Africa Embrace the Wind of Change,’ had discussions centred on the business sphere.
With it, business experts, including Mr. Mike Bolton, Dr James Ogundele and Mrs. Consolatta Ruboneka shared their experiences and offered advice to other business people (mostly Christians) on how to embrace the wind of change in business and how Africa can reposition business to mitigate Covid-19 effects.
The Africa Arise and Shine conference was organised by Authentic Word Ministries and Zion Temple Celebration centres.
During the discussions, Christian business experts shed light on the strategies and measures to take in dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on businesses so that they can reach their success.
Bolton, who has more than 30 years of experience in business coaching, was unable to estimate the extent of the pandemic’s impact on individuals and businesses.
“The impact of the pandemic on individuals and business is incredible,” he noted.
In North America in particular, food industry statistics show that 40 percent of restaurants will not be able to reopen, Bolton said of the reports, adding that the African continent has been similarly affected.
“It requires Africans to take time to think and analyse the situation in business and come up with effective solutions, such as changing the way people do business, introducing new products and avoiding doing too much but instead focus on the core aspect of the business and find the way to do it better,” Bolton said.
Consolatta Ruboneka, who runs a tourism and hospitality business in Kigali, thanked God that her businesses had not closed, though it was among those which were seriously hit by the pandemic.
“The pandemic caused us several problems that we are still struggling with until an unknown time. We are still praying, we believe it will end,” she pointed out.
Unlike many companies, Ruboneka did not fire any employees. However; retaining all staff in such difficult times was not easy.
“We did not suspend employees because such a decision adds to their troubles. We discussed and agreed on a number of principles to keep a close eye on trust,” she added.
Ruboneka advised other Christian entrepreneurs to rely on living hope, stay loyal in good times and bad, embrace change and learn how to adapt to it.
Responding to the post-Covid-19 era, Dr. James Ogundele, director of engineering and manufacturing at Corning based in New York, said digitalisation is very important for business survival. He however warned businesses about cyber fraud.
“Digitalisation is a business opportunity, but at the same time there are risks in how to ensure that you deal with trusted people. Business people should understand that their business can do every transaction online, but it requires mutual trust between suppliers and consumers,” he said.
Ogundele highlighted that knowing employees are the main stakeholders helps companies survive in good and bad times, and recommends Christian entrepreneurs to make it a top priority especially during a crisis.
Sharing his experience, Ogundele testified that his company did not lay anybody off because of the pandemic, but instead kept its ‘first stakeholders’ along with him for the company’s survival during and after the pandemic. What he did to deal with the situation was to reduce working hours and the salary of executives.
Bolton advised Christians running businesses to work smarter, pray more, and ask God to give them divine strategies so that the Holy Spirit can communicate and give insight before they make their own decisions.
“Ask God if you made the right decision or if this is the right time to make it. Also, there is a need to properly manage resources,” he added.