Friends – we are back to complete the series, Covid-19 crisis – an opportunity-laden monster for those with the right enterprise-spectacles.
Last week we discussed opportunities in the professional work ecosystem and technology. We outlined the levers that one can apply to gain traction from point A to B, on condition that they have the right enterprise lenses on. Tom, Dick and Harry lack the wherewithal to glean such fortune. Sadly, that is how the world works.
This week’s blog delves into the COVID-19-crisis enterprise opportunities, but from the society in general and economics/business viewpoints.
We will start from the social side of things – and yes, everywhere we look, there is an opportunity to change. Indeed, and to our surprise (not shock), social-change has been embraced by society in general, including those least expected to do so. The new and different lenses (read: entrepreneurial) are bringing new perspectives into view. The jury is still out on whether this apparent change in behaviour, albeit, forced on society by circumstances, will last:
Politics – can you believe that even in the ‘Pearl of Africa’, the dog-eat-dog politics has since been put to the side. How we wish things were like this all along, and continue to be so. We will give a few examples to justify our confident statement of fact: at one of the pressers by His Excellency the President of Uganda, he appreciated his government being ‘gifted’ with food for the vulnerable by nemesis People-Power – who could have imagined this thawing of the usually cold relations?
On Twitter, we have witnessed thousands of our fellow countrymen and women appreciate, and genuinely at that, the work by the Minister of Health Jane Ruth Achieng and her team – when last did a minister hold such good-will from the general public, including from the usually plodding opposition, on their excellent work?
We have even witnessed a usually venomous member in the Kampala political opposition ranks, cautioning the public against accusing the government of supplying rotten food rations to the poor; he instead asked that in the circumstances, the public should appreciate every little the government is doing for them – wow!
Our fellow countrywomen and men, it appears, from where we stand at the Effectiveness lab, that the COVID 19 crisis has managed something that evaded even extremely witty politicians in the last 15 years of Uganda’s political history – TO SEND GUTTER POLITICS HOME ON FURLOUGH.
Politics is suspended, and the politicians are all united and in a position of consensus. There is only one big lesson that we learn, and hopefully shall apply post-COVID-19. That all Ugandans are humble servants of God, and when all is said and done, should be working in unity to change the fortunes of this long-suffering nation. The latter is possible, after all, as long as we learn to listen to one another, accommodate other people’s views whether we agree with them or not, and accept personal difference with humility.
Community/family – there is a lot to learn here, but we look at only a few areas. Ugandan social habits have been dropped and forgotten, killing a culture that is hundreds of years old. In the latter’s place, is undoubted, more convenient and mercantile driven ‘other-world’ cultures. Ugandans, especially the better educated, have become urbanite, forgetting the roots some of them and their forefathers come from.
The educated have, unawares, undermined the socio-economic potential of the countryside. It’s as simple as appreciating that, socially, embracing the rural lifestyle may lessen the urban-pressure we are put under every day and the ensuing increase in the NCD incidence rate. Surely, merely improving the quality of life would be a big plus – and justification for embracing countryside lifestyles.
Economically – some of us can drive significant production and skills injection in the rural setting – and this doesn’t mean abandoning your urban lifestyle but finding space to do both. Perhaps, some of us with the right enterprise lenses may even do better upcountry than in town.
There is something both rural and entrepreneurial about the Ugandan lifestyle that we hope the COVID-19 crisis helps revive plus force people to do well. Being lacklustre about things rural is the reason many of you worship white-collar jobs in Kampala and run blue-collar businesses, that are mostly failing in the countryside.
But also, when we face another pandemic, and it’s a matter of when, and many of you may by then fall in the extreme risk category of the population, you will have rural safe havens to shield you from pandemic/s
Indeed, with all the city attractions in limbo, we all wanted to run back to villages that we had long abandoned – if it wasn’t for the President’s wise move, that saw him announce a total lockdown with less than two hours’ notice. All of a sudden, we remembered there were peaceful and spacious villages to run too for cover. Yes, there is calm, and opportunity in the villages, that we hope will be appreciated and nurtured by the educated and affluent – and that going forward, we will re-invent that space and rejuvenate the long lost Uganda country (kyalo) culture.
Economics – may this be where the most opportunity lies, if you have the right spectacles on? We think so. Entrepreneurs want to make a difference and are pragmatists. This species of human beings has the knack for spotting what isn’t apparent to the majority of us. They see the opportunity, even from trouble and crisis.
So, COVID-19 is such one opportunity for the above creature. And many are at work already – while many of us are worrying about the disruption that may wipe out our businesses, the entrepreneurial type has seized on the moment to create hybrids from our failing businesses, or are creating entirely new markets. I’m sure you all have witnessed the rise of the house-to-house delivery service in Kampala, in all its variants.
I was at my brother’s house last week and learnt that national curriculum schools are now teaching kids, not on TV, but Zoom. Why would teachers providing face-to-face tuition lessons (before the lockdown), ever do it that way again? Could such teachers use Zoom to offer a more individualised/differentiated tuition education and charge a premium for the tailored service? Why would a parent not opt to pay more, for the offer that allows their daughter or indeed son, to get needed remedial education from the safety of their home?
Sectors like education, teleworking, door to door service, telemedical service provision, agriculture, and believe it or not faith providers like Churches, etc. are teeming with opportunity
Like last week, we again end on the note:
…are you waiting for the lockdown to end and return to business as usual? Now, if you come out of this COVID-19 lockdown unchanged, not re-invented or re-engineered – it may not be farfetched to opine that you have failed to take advantage of opportunity put on a silver platter. Indeed, the world and Uganda abound with opportunity for those with the right entrepreneurial spectacles.