Crisis or no crisis, Yasmin Kumi, the Founder & CEO of Africa Foresight Group, spends her days thinking about how to make African organizations successful. Her company is “building the largest network of top freelance consultants in Africa to create access to quality management consulting services for investors, African businesses and development partners.” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, resiliency and business continuity plans are of course at the top of everyone’s mind, but Kumi and her network of 100 freelance consultants are also helping clients find the hidden opportunities that exist in the challenge. Here are the top 3 challenges that they are looking to tackle:
1) Global investment volumes will shrink. Kumi predicts that they could shrink by 15%. This also means that development assistance budgets, like the budgets of the World Bank, USAID, and DFID will likely be slashed as well. On the other hand, private capital, especially for businesses that can demonstrate resilience to unplanned global disruptions, will still be available. She advises businesses to plan their fundraising with that in mind.
2) Economies that rely on commodity-trade, such as oil, will face a period of low revenues. It’s also likely that global supply chains will break down while different countries go into different lockdown periods. Kumi sees that “this can also be an opportunity for African businesses to fill emerging supply gaps to increase self-dependence of their domestic economies.”
3) Travel bans have reduced the size of our talent pools. It will be harder to bring in expertise from outside your own country. To make the most out of this challenge, organizations should “get better at cultivating local talent and embracing technology to obtain remote advice,” says Kumi.
While it’s hard to plan for the unpredictable, there are three capabilities that Kumi is coaching her clients to focus on so that they can capture these hidden opportunities.
1) Focus on your people. Communicate clearly and frequently. Allow people to work from home as much as possible. A slowdown in business is also a good time for employees to complete virtual training sessions to build their skillset.
2) Scenario plan. Nobody knows how the virus will take hold in Africa so plan for a best, average, and worse case scenario. Start building up resilience to be able to deal with each scenario, if or when, it occurs.
3) Keep moving forward. Business leaders may have the tendency to want to ‘wait and see’ before making decisions, but Kumi advises them to take action. “Study your portfolio of initiatives and operations to see where things can continue to run to minimize the cost of the crisis to the success of your business year, even if it requires adaptation of your original plans,” she said.
No matter what steps business leaders take, they will be affected by the Coronavirus’ impact on the global economy. And while many businesses fail, with proper planning and support, many more businesses will make it through. By taking Kumi’s advice, African businesses will not only be able to weather this storm but come out the other side of it as a stronger company more able to deal with massive disruptions in the future. Africa’s businesses can make its economy more resilient.