The global impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had not only on public health but on business, cannot be undress-mated. Itʼs prudent to consider the impact such a global disruption of trade has on small and medium businesses.
Businesses are more fragile or cash-strapped more than ever due to lowered demand. Nobody knows how long the COVID-19 crisis will last. If the crisis is going to be a prolonged one, either the consumers will consume less or change the way they purchase. Now is the time to activate a robust risk action plan to position businesses to navigate the crisis and be ready for rapid recovery when the situation shows positive signs.
Companies that would usually import items to sell, particularly SMEs, are unable to continue with business as usual because of trade disruptions. So, the question we must ask is, how do these SMEs make their supply chain anti-fragile?
LOOKING AHEAD: THE IMPERATIVE FOR A NEW SUPPLY CHAIN MODEL
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) can play the role of unlocking innovation, growth and productivity on the continent, especially for the SME segment. The creation of a single continental market for goods and services, the member states of the African Union hope to boost trade between African countries. Studies have shown that by creating a
pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022.
Digital platforms and the adoption of mobile technology act as effective conduits for the exchange of value, and by aggregating demand across the continent, these platforms give small and medium businesses opportunities to access new markets and to offer or identify goods and services previously limited by location constraints and marketing costs. These platforms create a diversification effect that boosts the robustness of supply chains.
A powerful force expediting cross-border trade is the accelerating progress of digital technology in areas spanning from trade logistics, automated processing and e-payments to immediate access and exchange of trade information and documentation.
WHAT SUPPLY CHAIN RISKS SHOULD BUSINESSES FOCUS ON?
• Do you know which suppliers pose the most imminent threat to your business?
• What options do you have if a critical supplier failed?
• How will you ensure you emerge with a robust supply chain post disruption?
• How are your external stakeholders reacting to significant disruptions in your supply chain?
• How do you best monitor and identify emerging risks in the supply chain?
• What actions can you take to support weaker suppliers facing difficulties?
Diversifying and strengthening supply chains is crucial for SMEs to survive and flourish. When we consider that by 2035, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that Africa will have added more working-age people to our work-force than the rest of the worldʼs regions combined, itʼs essential that we have a thriving SME sector to absorb these workers and help grow economies across the continent.