How BigFive Businesses Are Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis

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Companies in the BigFive ecosystem are scrambling to respond to the growing Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic is poised to disproportionately impact small business as knowledge workers begin telecommuting, travel is curtained, large gatherings are postponed or canceled, and consumers spend more time at home and less out in the public eating, shopping and socializing.

Winners and Losers

The crisis has benefited some businesses as well. Teleconferencing platforms like Zoom are clearly having a moment, for example. Online payment platforms are also increasing volume.

Speaking to ITWebOzow CEO Thomas Pays noted that his platform is processing 25% to 45% more transition that just a couple of weeks ago. Many retail businesses are scrambling to set up online payments to accommodate shoppers who want to use contactless payment options.

Yet many other businesses have seen an alarming drop in trade during the crisis. And business conditions will inevitably worsen before they improve.

Grant Greef, CEO of EHIRE, a platform for sourcing materials for weddings and events (tables, chairs, cookware, cutlery, etc.), was a speaker at the inaugural BigFive Summit. He posted a message on LinkedIn recently being candid about how the crisis has impacted his business.

“My EHIRE team and I are in survival mode right with the shutdown of the travel and events industry. In these times, I believe being open, honest, and sharing as much as possible increases the likelihood of making it through these times.”

Grant went on to list measures his company is taking to address the crisis. These include implementing a four-day week, requesting rent relief, suspending founder salaries for three months, canceling non-essential expenses and more.

It’s easy to imagine similar decisions being made at businesses across South Africa and the continent.

Crowdsourcing Ideas

Yoco, led by CEO Katlego Maphai, has launched an initiative to survey small businesses to ask them to share their ideas for how they plan to adapt to the coming crisis.

“Covid-19 will change consumer behavior,” Katlego said. “It will impact consumption and it will naturally impact your sales.”

Yoco’s plan is to share the survey results to its community so there can be some shared learning in how to adapt to the crisis.

Other Actions from the BigFive Ecosystem

Standard Bank has initiated a three-month payment holiday for small businesses.

Telekom has pledged R15 million to bolster South Africa’s primary healthcare efforts in the battle against Covid-19.

South Africa’s Department of Small Business Development plans to set up a Debt Relief Fund to aid small businesses impacted by the crisis.


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