Focus on online sales, remote services amid Covid-19, SMEs told

Small and medium businesses affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are advised to shift their focus to online sales or remote services and reach out to groups to mobilize the local community to support them to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

A toolkit supporting Covid-19-affected firms developed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said they need to build or modify their existing social media site, website, or create a temporary one to start selling their product or services online.

“For example, some small businesses have shown creativity such as now providing education and exercise classes online, and restaurants focusing on taking orders online and delivering food. It’s not too late!,” it said.

UNDRR also urged business owners to contact their local business associations, including Chambers of Commerce, to deploy the local community to support them.

The local Chamber of Commerce is not only a good resource for information but also to mobilize and bring together local communities to support local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it said.

“There are good examples globally of local chambers of commerce starting campaigns to raise money to support local small businesses, promote small business services and products and to advocate on their behalf to the government,” it added.

UNDRR said they may also explore joining forces with other small businesses in their area to share information and offer mutual support, as many others have been affected by the unprecedented global crisis.

“While the business next door may be your competitor, it is worth reaching out to other businesses like yours directly or through the local Chamber of Commerce to explore how others are managing the crisis and come up with ideas on how together you may be able to be more resilient,” it added.

Further, Covid-19-affected businesses can contact government agencies to find out about income support and loans for their employees to maintain their income, and ask their creditors, suppliers, and others to defer rent payments or pay in installments.

“In other instances, many banks are offering flexible packages for businesses and households to manage mortgage and other loans. It doesn’t hurt to ask what support they may be able to offer you,” UNDRR said.

It further said the local chamber of commerce or business association should be able to help businesses identify what they are eligible for and with any applications for support.

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