The unprecedented Covid-19 crisis caught everyone off-guard and the business sector got a huge brunt juggling closures and abrupt business model revamps.
Even the industry giants that have contingency plans and funds struggled, what more the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)?
In a September 2020 report by Asian Development Bank, the Philippines is at the forefront of business closures and layoffs among its Southeast Asian peers. It recorded an all-time high of 70.6 percent of forced closures.
This contributed to the recorded 10.3 percent unemployment rate that translates to 4.5 million Filipinos losing their job amid the most challenging time in the contemporary era.
Since gatherings were not allowed, the events and dining industries suffered the biggest dent on revenues. Retail was likewise gravely affected because customers weren’t allowed to shop in physical stores anymore.
Nonetheless, it compelled business owners to immediately transform services into digital platforms equipping their respective businesses to become future-proof.
Social media sites became a refuge for small businesses. During the first months into the strict lockdown, many food and retail businesses migrated their presence to Facebook and Instagram particularly in advertising their products. Online payment schemes also became the norm to sustain seller-customer relations despite the physical barriers.
Online shopping mobile apps likewise became part of Filipinos’ daily lives as more physical stores built digital stores where customers can buy their goods in simple clicks.
Delivery services complemented this digital transformation where the displaced drivers got into parcel logistics.
The digital shift may not have been easy for everyone, especially those who were used to the traditional way of manual operations, but according to the 2020 Asia-Pacific SMB Digital Maturity study, small businesses thrive with the changes.
Social awareness sharpened
Further, the pandemic allowed aspiring business owners to materialize business concepts as more local shops received the spotlight. This is a drastic change to the mentality that businesses are only meant for big corporations.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of each business’ social responsibility. Individuals paid more attention to the sustainability and inclusivity efforts of each enterprise.
More people also became aware of the labor practices of businesses because more workers were vocal on their prerogatives during the health crisis.
Overall, the business wheel is going through a bumpy road which needed the guiding light of social responsibity rather than the drive for financial sustainability.