87% of Africa’s small businesses fear they may not survive the Covid-19 crisis

Most entrepreneurs who took part in AMI’s Covid-19 business survival boot camps, with Business Day, say a single, small loan could mean survival

Picture: 123RF/DMITRIJS KAMINSKIS
A staggering 87% of small businesses in Africa fear they may not survive the Covid-19 crisis, a recent survey of entrepreneurs by training consultancy the African Management Institute (AMI) shows.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has halted economic activities in many parts of the world, with governments imposing lockdowns to curb infections. Already, millions of jobs have been lost worldwide with the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors, one of the key drivers of the continent’s economy, hardest hit.

Latest figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global industry association, show that the sector is losing a million jobs a day across the world. In Africa alone, 7.6-million jobs are expected to be lost, while total GDP loss could be close to $53bn (about R980.5bn)

Overall, the UN predicts that nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost due to the coronavirus.

Of the entrepreneurs who participated in AMI’s Covid-19 business survival  boot camps, 87% said they were worried about surviving the current crisis, while 67% said their businesses have been hit hard since the introduction of social-distancing, lockdowns, and curfews on the continent.

The two-week virtual boot camp was held in partnership with Business Day for the SA leg.

Almost 2,500 businesses from more than 40 countries across Africa have registered for the boot camps. Participants come from 44 countries but are concentrated in Kenya, Nigeria, SA, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana.

In response to the survey, 62% of small and medium enterprises (SME) owners also said that Covid-19 has had a big impact on customer demand; and 49% said their product supply has been highly affected.

In focus groups, businesses have indicated that they need help to forecast cash flow; plan for different scenarios; understand how to keep connected to their customers; manage costs; and determine how to support their team at this time.

The survey shows that Africa’s small businesses urgently need liquidity. More than 75% of entrepreneurs surveyed believe a loan would help their chances of survival, and just more than 50% indicated that small loans of less than $50,000 (about R725,000) could be the difference between survival and closing down.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

By BEKEZELA PHAKATHI – BusinessLIVE

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