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How businesses can stay ahead during COVID-19, by experts

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Motorists queue in a traffic gridlock as commercial activities return at the end of a five-week COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown in Lagos, on May 4, 2020. – In the metropolis of 20 million, where exuberance and poverty live side by side, relief at being able to earn money once again was almost palpable, despite Nigeria’s mounting COVID-19 coronavirus toll. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

As the lockdown is being relaxed in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun, experts have charged business owners and policymakers to stay ahead on their operations while being up to speed on trending developments during the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Experts, who gathered at an online webinar meeting organised by the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), titled, “Staying ahead in a pandemic,” urged businesses to fine-tune their policies in relation to the pandemic guidelines while including safety procedures.
    
Director, Advisory, KPMG, Mrs Dolapo Adeosun, said business owners need to show concern and compassion to their staff in this period. As humans are the key resources to organisations, there is a need to check up on them and see how well they are faring with the pandemic.
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Adeosun noted that competition as a strategy is critical for growth at this time, but innovation by start-ups on value chains are areas of new opportunities.
    
She said small and medium enterprises should come together and leverage collaboration as a strategy as there are a lot of options entrepreneurs can tap into at this period.
    
Country Director, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Eme Essien Lore, said 2020 will be a challenging year for businesses across the globe, as they would need to prepare for worst-case scenarios.
    
According to her, there are opportunities in crisis especially in some sectors like the telecommunication industry, as it affects the lives of the unbanked at this time.
   
She said Nigeria has a vibrant ecosystem, which has an impact on the private sector and expressed the hope that the authorities would allow private players to come in with their experience in problem-solving and grant them space to operate.
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On her part, Digital Transformation expert, Mrs Mervis Elebe, said policymakers need to figure out parts of their businesses that can be automated, as organisations need to change their digital culture, which should start from the leadership.
 
Elebe also urged business owners to develop a digital strategy, and empower their employees through training to access online tools for effective communication.
 
According to her, technology is no longer a luxury for businesses but a necessity that they should invest in, while management needs to be quite conscious and allow remote work for employees who can.

She noted that organisations should give special consideration to the lower cadre staff, who have to come through public transport while also considering flexible working hours for workers. Policies from the government should be adhered to by organisations as these are safety measures to keep workers and customers safe.  
    
In his remarks, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, Dr Oyedeji Ayonrinde, said as work resumes gradually, workers should not lose attention on their health issues.
   
According to him, people need to be mindful of their activities while information management is essential at this period. 

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