Predictions are uncertain, but necessary. We live in a time when market trends, behavioral science and technology innovations make predictions significantly reliable. Of course, there are isolated issues that can derail a prediction, or a market trend that arrives out the blue! However, overall, business and brands use predictions and trends to steer business strategies. And of course, no one (except Bill Gates apparently) predicted the arrival & impact of Covid-19 – the steam train travelling at 10 000km/h derailing everything in its path.
Disrupting, devastating, and destroying. But this is not another depressing Corona virus impact article, rather it is a personal view of how the impact of this virus could (and should) propel South Africa, and her people, to realise the significance of two key attributes that shape us and will (eventually) help us recover.
The first – is our resilience. What makes us so resilient? I have witnessed endurance, determination, and gusto of unprecedented proportions during this pandemic and of course in various other challenging situations – whether economically or socially. South Africans are literally the epitome of resilience. We do not always get it right, but the heart and the psyche of the South African is unlike any other in the world.
The second – is our local capabilities. The changes being felt by Covid-19 will impact the way we work together, work for each other and how we drive a collective local strategy forward. The term ‘Proudly South African’ and ‘Locally Made’ are no longer just fun marketing slogans to encourage unity. Rather, this is a position we need to take to heart if we want our economy to recover and support job retention and creation.
I have spoken to various South Africans – corporate, small business and individuals – that are determined to change the economic trajectory of our country and drive the adoption of more locally driven businesses. And it is the SME sector that is perfectly positioned for this.
And so, my (albeit insignificant) prediction is not just one of resilience, but of how business will now likely become more locally focused – supporting sectors that have a direct impact on the South African people – through locally driven and locally adopted business priorities. In fact, now, more than ever, we truly understand how significant the SME sector is for the southern tip of Africa’s economy. Our growth lies here and should not be ignored.
This pandemic has relentlessly highlighted what is important and what is insignificant. Professionally and personally. It has re-written our working environments, and it has forced a merge between personal and work life. It has highlighted the need for diversity. It has made things uncomfortable. And it has reiterated our need for strong cash flows and emergency savings (cue business coach whisper voice over right ear) in any business. But it has also reiterated how important humility and viability is. And the value of a support network. This virus has shifted priorities for so many, where opportunities – driven by resilience, and supported by local capabilities – will be needed and realized.
This new era must drive us forward. Improve our humility. Improve our support of local. We must, and should, rely on each other more. We must encourage each other and continue to provide opportunities for transformation and growth. We must make a difference, even if we are not always perfect at it. And we must become catalysts for resilience and local development support if we ever want to kick start our economy and support the much-needed job creation and investment needs.