Report of the first online USB Alumni Webinar facilitated by the West Africa Alumni Association Chapter Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
The current challenge COVID-19 has created around the globe.

The current challenge COVID-19 has created around the globe necessitated a lockdown and ban on movement and physical meetings across most nations. In line with South African directives, the USB Alumni office issued a statement suspending all previously planned roundtables and dialogue sessions. All alumni events were to hold online going forward.  The West Africa Chapter in line with the directive was able to promptly convert a previously planned physical event to an online webinar, and it was well attended by members of other chapters in East and South Africa.

We are therefore very pleased to present our report on the first ever USB Alumni Webinar. The topic was a very relevant one in these times:

“COVID-19: Navigating the Economic Effects and Commercial Implications Globally and Locally”

The speaker for the day was Ms Toyin Sanni, who has a background in securities and law with extensive experience in corporate finance, trust and asset management. She was declared the All African Business Woman of the year 2017 by CNBC Africa and also Nigeria’s CEO of the Year 2017 by Pearl Awards. She did justice to the topic, sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience, providing insight and useful suggestions to help businesses get through the turbulent times.

Some of the highlights from her presentation were as follows:

Global Effects of COVID-19

  • Businesses around the world are coping with loss of revenue and disrupted supply chains as factories shutdown and quarantine measures spread across the globe.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), lowered its forecast of global economic growth by 0.5% for 2020 from 2.9% to 2.4%, if the economic effects of the virus peaked in the first quarter of 2020.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF), noted that the coronavirus pandemic had instigated an economic downturn the likes of which the world has not experienced since the Great Depression.
  • Unemployment levels is on the rise and policy makers across countries race to implement fiscal and monetary measures to alleviate the financial burden on citizens and shore up economies under severe strain.

Effects on Global Business and Trade

  • According to the United Nations (UN), the world’s $80 trillion economy will decline by $1trillion to $2 trillion – a close to 3% contraction.
  • The Chinese economy is likely to be hit further with reduced global demand for its products due to the effect of the outbreak on economies around the world.
  • Global trade volumes are projected to decline between 13% and 32% in 2020.

Industries Most Effected by COVID-19

  • Tourism and Hospitality – Serious downward effect due to lockdowns and no gathering rules across the globe
  • Aviation and airlines – due to holiday season bookings being missed, and ban on local and international travel.
  • Consumer products – challenges in supply chain operations due to lock down in most nations, but significant increase in demand for food items and household essentials.
  • Entertainment and online businesses – due to the inability to move, there has been a significant increase in the patronage of online entertainment and learning platforms.

Long Term Changes

  • Schools and business worldwide have quickly moved towards remote working and learning for the remainder of the school year.
  • Spending on video game companies like Twitch and Nintendo is booming, and streaming services, including Netflix and Spotify, are enjoying gains as well.
  • With limited activity out of home, there has a spike in the use of social media across the world. Media consumption by all age group has increased significantly.
  • Health & wellness information such as coronavirus symptoms, handwashing techniques are up by 17%.
  • Food & recipe websites are up by 22%.
  • Recreation such as fitness & exercise and video games are up by 162% and 41% respectively.
  • Zoom, a popular remote conferencing software, has seen a sharp increase in its stock price during the first few months of 2020.

5 Thinking Horizons for Companies

  1. Resolve

Address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to your company’s labour force, customers, clients, technology and business partners.

  1. Resilience

Address short term cash-management challenges as this appears to be the most critical to companies across the world. Increase resiliency during periods of virus-related shutdowns and anticipated economic knock-on.

  1. Return

Create detailed plan to return business to scale quickly as COVID-19 situation evolves and knock-on effects become clearer.

  1. Reimagination

Reimagine the next normal, evaluate key success and failures features during the lockdown phase and its implications. Discover how your institution should reinvent.

  1. Reform

Be clear about how regulatory and competitive environment may shift.

How Small Businesses Can React to the Pandemic

  1. Educate your Staff & Customers
  • Inform them on the steps you’re taking to keep them safe.
  • The better you can alleviate their fears and anxieties, the easier it will be for you to retain their business and loyalty.
  1. Scenario Planning
  • What happens if your local schools close for three weeks? Three months?
  • If you take a hit, how can you gain your team’s loyalty?
  • Are there big opportunities here for your business?
  1. Solicit Support
  • Enlist your vendors & suppliers for help.
  • Negotiate better pricing or payment terms.
  • Ask for an increase to the services they provide you for a period of time at no additional cost.
  1. Plan out your Cash Flow
  • Plan and arrange towards increase in line of credit.
  • This is also a good time to increase your liquid reserves by setting aside more of your revenue for “just in case” money.
  1. Look for Opportunities
    • Search for promotional opportunities to harness this situation.
    • Hold an open dialogue with your staff about the situation and how your company can best navigate these waters

The event was very well attended and marked the beginning of online collaboration for the USB Alumni Association. The West Africa Chapter would like to thank the guest speaker, Ms Toyin  Sanni for sharing her wealth of knowledge and insight, the Alumni Office for their support before and during the event, and all participants for making themselves available. We look forward to many more informative webinars from the USB Alumni chapters in the days to come.


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