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Coronavirus

5 practical things small businesses can do during this pandemic lockdown

This pandemic provides a good opportunity for businesses to do some re-evaluation; ask questions about how to improve efficiency after this blows away.

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Entrepreneur, Multiple businesses, Nigeria partners UAE to boost SMEs , US technology company deploys software to ease business process in Nigeria, Experts outline what SMEs must do to attract funding, investors in 2020 , Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business, What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak , What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak, FG rolls out N2.3 trillion survival funds for MSMEs; see criteria 

Notwithstanding the losses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic worldwide, I daresay that this is a rare opportunity for businesses. This may be the best time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, making necessary adjustments to strengthen operations, service delivery, and other major aspects that are vital to the growth and stability of any organization.  In this piece, I will share 5 things that businesses across the board can do to bring their operations up to par.

Update Database and Codify Processes

This pandemic provides a good opportunity for businesses to do some re-evaluation; ask questions about how to improve efficiency after this blows away. One way to achieve that is by codifying processes and updating database. It is popular knowledge that information is vital for any business to survive. This means that customers and employees must be up-to-date on the business plans and direction as it changes to meet market demands and different realities. Businesses must take this time to document/update all of the unwritten policies, processes as it involves the business as a whole. Many times, there have been experiences of employees claiming not to be aware of a certain rule that should have guided their decision, so codifying all the information that your employees need to be aware of should be written down somewhere and shared across the board so that everyone is aligned. This would go a long way in helping to improve communication and efficiency in the long run.

Another important part is uploading information databases onto any of the cloud systems.(G-suite, Dropbox, Salesforce, etc) The pandemic has forced many businesses to go digital and having as much of your information saved online is critical so that anyone who needs it can have access at their convenience. Digital transformation is a thing and we need to adjust as soon as possible. The quickest way down for any organization is to lack accurate data on policies, structural adjustment, and customer information which often translates to poor strategy execution when forecasting for the business and its future.

READ ALSO: Google partners Flutterwave to train 5,000 merchants

Build Social Presence 

The use of digital platforms have been on the increase during this period and very rightly. Businesses are trying to gain market share and are competing for audience attention. Beyond ensuring that you have an active online presence, what is key is focusing on the platform that targets your audience. As a small business, you cannot be everywhere because you most likely do not have the resources (finance and manpower), so what is advisable is to “go deep and go wide.” Find out what platform(s) your audience congregate and create high engaging content and begin to build human interaction. The trends of events have shown that there is so much to be gained from active participation on these platforms.

(READ MORE: Should Ecommerce and Logistic efforts be the exemption to the Nationwide Lockdown? )

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp for Business, Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn,  to mention a few should be taken very seriously because of the large number of users.

5 PRACTICAL THINGS SMALL BUSINESSES CAN DO DURING THIS PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN

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If you are yet to set up your platform, you can start off telling your business journey;  challenges and lessons learned. Nothing beats value- relatable content.

The opportunities are endless and it will also afford an entrepreneur or business owner the chance to engage and feel the pulse of its target market/audience which will definitely take the business to the next level.

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Rejig or Revamp Branding Materials

Nothing tells the story of a business as much as its brand materials. Beyond the promise and messaging, other elements that make up a brand including the materials. While speaking with some businesses, there were conversations about wanting to update some brading elements but due to busy schedules, these could not happen. Fortunately, or unfortunately, businesses now have some time to work on this so that it reflects the image you want the brand to have. These materials include brand logo, message fonts, colours, design layouts, tagline, color palette, and all the marketing and promotional materials, letterheads, signage, etc. These, as we know amongst other things, will aid in giving your company an appeal in a very attractive way.  With adequate feedback through communication with customers and your team, you can birth something that will keep your target audience glued to your brand.

(READ MORE: Stanbic IBTC gives update on its business continuity approach amid COVID-19 lockdowns )

Encourage Professional Development

The success of any business lies with its people. As a business owner, it cannot be over-emphasized the importance of professional development for employees. Given the current reality where non-essentials have been forced to work from home or take unpaid leave, businesses should encourage employees to take advantage of this ‘opportunity’ to develop themselves and build in-demand skills. As a CEO or a manager, you want the best people on your team especially coming out of this pandemic. You want people who can hit the ground with ideas to keep the business running.

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5 PRACTICAL THINGS SMALL BUSINESSES CAN DO DURING THIS PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN

READ MORE: CBN warns SMEs not to pay any fee to access its N50 billion stimulus package

As you know, professional development helps employees continue to not only be competent in their profession but also excel in it. It should be an ongoing process that continues throughout an individual’s career.

Actively pursuing professional development ensures that knowledge and skills stay relevant and up to date. It also allows employees to be more aware of changing trends and directions. With the professional world moving at a faster pace than ever before, not developing oneself will cause one to be left behind as peers expand their knowledge and skills. There is always room for growth and improvement of professional skills. Attending a webinar or live session on social media, and so on, can provide employees with new ways to sharpen skills within their professions. The more knowledge an individual gains of a specific skill set, the more confidence they will have when performing these skills.

There are several webinars- free and paid currently being advertised that your team can sign up for. Select the one that is relevant to them (individually or as a  unit) and encourage everyone to participate. There is no better time than now to drive professional development to sharpen skills. The chances of having a positive impact on your output as a business from this period onwards are high.

(READ MORE: List of things you must accomplish during the Covid-19 lockdown)

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Build Thought Leadership

Every business has a story to tell; journey, challenges, learnings, insights, and general experience. If there was ever a time to share that story, it is now.

5 PRACTICAL THINGS SMALL BUSINESSES CAN DO DURING THIS PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN

Procrastination and tight schedules might have restrained many businesses from unleashing the phenomenal content that could turn things around in their fields. Incidentally, this period has also forced a lot of people to stay online and access the necessary knowledge and know-how on various issues of interest. There is no better time to unpack all that knowledge living in your head and share with the world than now. Value is the number 1 magnet in business and thought leadership is arguably the fastest way to give value.

READ ALSO: These easy to overlook challenges are killing SMEs in Nigeria

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Thought leadership is a type of content marketing. It positions you as an expert leader in your field. People look to you for information and ideas because you are able to lead their thoughts. It makes life easy for you as an entrepreneur when you are perceived as a thought leader in your industry. Platforms others pay to get on, you are invited to. Also, access to things others struggle to get becomes easier. For SMEs, especially service-based SMEs, thought leadership is infinitely cheaper than expending resources on core marketing.

Some of the things to settle in your mind before starting out include, what platform is suitable for your subject, following relevant people, and contributing to their conversation. In addition, deciding the format or medium is important. Many are comfortable with writing which can be translated into an ebook. You can decide to give it out for free or charge a token for it. Other formats to consider are podcasts and videos. For podcasts, tools like AudioBoom, anchor, headline.app, etc. will come in handy. While for videos, you can launch a webinar, live session on Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube) or record video content, and share on your platform. These are also called digital products.

If you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry, potential clients and customers will inherently trust you more and are likely to respond to you more warmly.

This list is inexhaustible but these pointers can guide you to other areas that directly impact your business. In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, the lockdown may just be the silver lining your business had always wished for. I look forward to sharing more tips that will take your business from where it is to where it ought to be.


This article was written by Kelvin Bob-Manuel, a Media and Marketing Communications Specialist at West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE).

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Business News

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 20th of April 2021, 120 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 164,423 confirmed cases.

On the 20th of April 2021, 120 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.

To date, 164,423 cases have been confirmed, 154,406 cases have been discharged and 2,061 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

A total of 1.84 million tests have been carried out as of April 20th, 2021 compared to 1.81 million tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 20th April 2021,

  • Total Number of Cases – 164,423
  • Total Number Discharged – 154,406
  • Total Deaths – 2,061
  • Total Tests Carried out – 1,838,174

According to the NCDC, the 120 new cases are reported from 8 states- Enugu (53), Lagos (22), Rivers (18), Ogun (8), FCT (7), Abia(6), Kano (5) and Bauchi (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 58,119, followed by Abuja (19,756), Plateau (9,035), Kaduna (9,014), Rivers (7,060), Oyo (6,839), Edo (4,897), Ogun (4,639), Kano (3,942), Ondo (3,226), Kwara (3,120), Delta (2,617), Osun (2,572), Nasarawa (2,380), Enugu (2,281), Katsina (2,097), Gombe (2,034), Ebonyi (2,020), Anambra (1,909), Akwa Ibom (1,843), and Abia (1,683).

Imo State has recorded 1,655 cases, Bauchi (1,540), Borno (1,337), Benue (1,188), Adamawa (1,063), Niger (930), Taraba (910), Bayelsa (885), Ekiti (869), Sokoto (775), Jigawa (527), Kebbi (450), Cross River (394), Yobe (365), Zamfara (240), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

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On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State announced the closed down of the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre, with effect from Friday, 31st July 2020. He also mentioned that the Agidingbi Isolation Centre would also be closed and the patients relocated to a large capacity centre.

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Due to the increased number of covid-19 cases in Nigeria, the Nigerian government ordered the reopening of Isolation and treatment centres in the country on Thursday, 10th December 2020.

On 26th January 2021, the Federal Government announced the extension of the guidelines of phase 3 of the eased lockdown by one month following the rising cases of the coronavirus disease in the country and the expiration of phase 3 of the eased lockdown.

On 28th February 2021, the federal government confirmed that the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021.

On Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, the National Primary health Care Development Agency announced the arrival of the expected COVX Astrazeneca/Oxford covid-19 vaccines.

On Saturday, 6th March 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo received vaccination against the covid-19 as the State House in Abuja.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

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Coronavirus

FG explains how the Covid-19 vaccines work and their composition

The NPHCDA Director said that Covid-19 vaccine candidates are of various categories based on their mechanism of action.

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The Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has explained the composition of the Covid-19 vaccines and how they work.

This is as some of them have been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) and some countries, while others are still at different phases of clinical trials for possible approval.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this insight was given by the Executive Director/Chief Executive of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who said there were several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

READ: African Union signs deal for 400 million Johnson and Johnson single shot vaccine

He said that Covid-19 vaccine candidates are of various categories based on their mechanism of action such as the inactivated or weakened virus vaccines.

He explained that the idea behind the formulation of an inactivated or weakened virus vaccine is to elicit an immune response without causing the disease itself. Shuaib also said there were protein-based vaccines, which used harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the Covid-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.

He added that the viral vector vaccines used a virus that had been genetically engineered to produce coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response and not give rise to the disease.

Going further, Shuaib pointed out that the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) vaccines employed a cutting-edge approach that used genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that safely prompted an immune response.

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READ: China publicly presents its COVID-19 vaccines, 2 doses to cost below $146

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that on March 2, 2021, Nigeria received the first set of about 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute in India and shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO.
  • A few days ago, the Executive Director of NPHCDA disclosed that a total of 8,491 Nigerians have reacted adversely to the AstraZeneca inoculation since the exercise began on March 15.
  • He said that Nigeria recorded 52 cases of moderate to severe incidents of Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI), presented as fever, vomiting, diarrhoea headaches, dizziness and allergic reactions.
  • About 1.09 million Nigerians have so far been administered the first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

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