Today and during this COVID-19 pandemic, one of the key tools required either to start or run a business is an internet connection. The internet has not only changed how a business communicates and manages it employees, it has transformed how businesses engage and manage the customer experience as well as the competition.
Email, online meetings, instant messaging, streaming services and cloud-hosted applications have drastically changed the process of information sharing. Knowledge transfer
s and collaboration s with other businesses and professionals have been simplified into virtual seminars commonly referred to as webinars. Digital advertising and social media engagement have extended a business’ ability to attract and sell to customers from all four corners of the globe. Purchases and payments can now be transacted at the click of the fingertip using mobile banking, mobile money transfers and credit/debit cards.
The internet has made it possible to work from anywhere and practically at any time. There are businesses who before COVID-19 had already embraced this agile manner of work with employees working remotely. The emergence and sweeping nature of COVID-19 has now made working from home (#WFH) a reality and norm for many companies.
At Invest in Africa, adapting to working from home (#WFH) has been relatively seamless as our ecosystem through which we empower SME growth and competitiveness is digital.
- SMEs members can join our COVID-19 Business Continuity Learning Series virtually through Microsoft Teams.
- SMEs members have visibility of market opportunities (#tenders/#EOIs/#RFQs) and can also advertise their product and service offerings through our online marketplace platform in Ghana, Senegal and Kenya. Registration is required.
- SME members can conduct B2B interactions amongst themselves via our online networking platform
- In addition to connecting via phone and email, SME members can engage our helpdesk through our online chat channel.
The reality of working from home is something we are going to have to contend with for some time to come. It is crucial businesses conduct and navigate their online activities cautiously; putting in place the necessary legal frameworks and security protocols to secure their assets.
Lifting of full or partial lockdowns does not mean that the threat is over. We need to remain vigilant on how we protect ourselves, our colleagues and our communities. Staying at home unless it is absolutely necessary to do otherwise is prudent advice, we must all heed.
We spoke to some of our SME members who shared with us their experiences of running their business from home in the wake of this pandemic. Please find their stories. Stay encouraged and please feel free to share your experiences.
Patience Osekre (MD), Supreme Healthcare Management Services
“Working from home has been great with the additional time gained from commuting hours compounded with reduced stress level; driving through the streets of Accra with some drivers breaking rules, less distractions and being able to focus on lots of outstanding tasks. However, given the nature of work that I do as a psychotherapist, my clients and I miss the physical interaction faceto-face sessions as compared to the seemingly abstract virtual sessions. Working from home sometimes makes me oblivious about my physical appearance: I remember having to grab my wig cap at the verge of the start of virtual meeting session when I thought I only had the audio on.”
Enam Dotse Woyome (CEO), Dondo Sourcing
“I received a call from a freight and logistics company who urgently needed some PPEs within an hour for their drivers because of new regulations introduced at the port. Unfortunately, I had run out of stock because of the spike in demand. I made some frantic calls to other suppliers and fortunately managed to secure some.
Now came the real challenge; getting the items picked up and delivered to the client. Due to the just ended partial lockdown in Accra I could not move out. The stock was to be picked up in the far west of Accra and the delivery point was in Tema. I called many of my trusted delivery service companies. They could not immediately confirm a bike to pick up the order because of the surge in demand for delivery services. After a few more calls, I managed to locate a delivery service. But my relief turned into dread when I received a call back some minutes later only to be told that the rider had been stopped by the police at one of the numerous checkpoints and turned back.
The client kept calling every now and then to check when the order will be delivered. I was hot! It was an opportunity to secure the client’s confidence and hopefully build a stronger relationship with them. I was very anxious at this point as it was becoming clear that I may not be able to have the items delivered. While pondering what else I could do to resolve the situation, I received a call from the supplier. They had despatched an order to another client located in a suburb close to Tema earlier in the morning, but he could not be reached when the rider arrived to deliver the items. It was the exact items and quantities I had ordered so they wanted to offer it to me. I jumped at it. I agreed to take it. Relief swept over me.
Just then the client called again. This time I was ready. I could give him a delivery time. I sounded calm and confident. He asked whether I was sure. I assured him that he would receive the order within minutes. 15 minutes later, the order arrived at the delivery point and was handed over. A miracle had happened. The odds were very much against me. I was about to lose the confidence of a client. But providence came through for me! I thanked God for that miracle.”
Jason Mills Lamptey (Local Content Manager), Subsea 7 Volta Contractors
“One of the steps our company took to mitigate the impact and disruptions caused by the global pandemic COVID-19, was to accelerate our work-from-home efforts. We managed this with the use of our own internal workplace software as well of that of the African Partner Pool (APP). A recent technical glitch had us in need of quick assistance. The APP team were both sensitive to our needs and exceedingly responsive. From a customer service standpoint, they are understanding of client perspectives and deliver efficient solutions.”Back