In early 2015, one of the most adorable personalities in the world, Bill Gates held a session on TED about “The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready”. This was immediately after the world survived the outbreak of Ebola. He explained how we reacted to the epidemic with detailed statistics but also stated that despite our efforts the world was far from being ready for another epidemic or a pandemic!
Fast forward to the year 2020: COVID-19 has become a flame without a fire that has engulfed the entire world and brought us all to a standstill, with “compulsory holidays” being declared in most countries and no logical end in sight to the pandemic!
If Bill Gates was a religious leader, the entire world would have become his congregation by now and of course, with plenty of prophet offerings!
According to Wikipedia, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally with common symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of smell and abdominal pain. The time from exposure to the manifestation of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. As of 10 April 2020, more than 1.6 million cases had been reported in more than 200 countries and territories, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths!
The virus is mainly spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced during coughing, sneezing, or talking. While these droplets are produced when breathing out, they usually fall to the ground or surfaces rather than being infectious over large distances. People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Coronavirus is most contagious during the first three days after onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.
The Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Environment
The emergence of the mighty COVID-19 has definitely altered lifestyle on a global scale. The business environment has now become more challenged especially as no one knows how long the pandemic would last. But even in the current challenging reality, further opportunities have been created for some industries that now are enjoying tremendous cash flow despite the suffering of the world.
Imagine what the current situation would have been without access to information communication technology. Imagine what it would have been without online platforms for e-commerce, training and financial services.
Definitely, the financial industry has helped tremendously to stabilise the economy from collapsing through their various payment channels such as Internet Banking, Point of Sales (PoS) Terminals, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), Mobile Banking Application and USSD. This management of the demand and supply flow is steadying various economies of the world and preventing another global economic recession.
In complementing the efforts of the financial industry, fintech companies are deploying innovative solutions for greater convenience in the performance of electronic payment transactions. Of late, one such innovation is Paylink, a payment solution for anyone to receive money INSTANTLY into their bank account from anyone, anywhere, anytime!
This particular payment solution has become the delight of SMEs, crowd funders, social entrepreneurs, religious organisations, individuals and others at this time of restricted movements and social distancing.
For industries that the pandemic negatively affected, the list is almost unending. But to kick-start discussions, here are the possible top losers:
This industry is one of the most capital intensive in the world and its operational cost is not a joke! The nature of the business involves continuous maintenance, high taxation, increasing operational and administrative costs which are the reason most airline operators utilise debt financing or are currently in huge debt with only bailout or liquidation as options.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has complicated the struggling cash flow (revenue) of the airlines with several operators finding it difficult to survive!
Small & Medium Enterprises
SMEs have been the backbone of many economies as their activities have created employment opportunities and facilitated daily livelihood of many.
However, with the lockdown, most SMEs have struggled to adjust as closure of business premises and markets has reduced patronage and sales. Although once business operations resume, it might be a slow start for them, but their recovery will definitely be short term.
Their major sources of income are donations and contributions of members and followers in terms of voluntary and mandatory giving through their various beliefs and principles. Many of such leaders have become richer than organisations in the real business world!
Definitely, they were shocked that such an outbreak could turn their worship centres into ghost sites with many of them now embracing and adopting technology to reach their members. As their members are also affected financially, the impact would reach the religious organisation. However, their recovery could be medium term as they would need time to convince their members to continue in belief and obedience of the doctrinal principles of giving!
They were one of major cash cows before the COVID-19 with several shows, albums and events for brand visibility and definitely more money. The industry has produced more celebrities and overnight millionaires with little or no knowledge of wealth or fame management!
The belief is that all you need is just to have a talent and the world would be at your feet. But the reality is that the industry is a Red Ocean with several people struggling for the same audience. At the moment, it is even difficult because the lockdown and social distancing measures have put shows and events on hold.
Regardless, the industry would still continue to survive through innovation that can create a new path to the Blue Ocean within the medium term but definitely not in the short term!
Transportation & their Unions
It was necessary to specifically separate this from the Aviation Industry and combine it with unions especially if you are from this part of the world where National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is a major stakeholder in the affairs of the state. Outsiders think its members are illiterate but majority of its leaders have their family abroad and their children are schooling overseas. Yet, we think they are not that smart but they milk money through extortion and harassment of motorists.
However, since governments across several states have ordered a lockdown to limit the spread of the pandemic, it has been very challenging for the transport operators and their unruly unions to eke a living. But once this period phases out, their business would resume as usual and their recovery will definitely be a short term!
While some will definitely find it hard to recover immediately after normalcy returns, a few will reach huge opportunities as the “Next Cash cow Industries” They include:
Food & Beverages
The demand in consumption will be increasing as people would put survival as a priority – and access to the market will increase demand for food items.
There will be a change in culture and attitude in some areas such as work pattern, education, commerce and access to information, with more preference for online channels which in return would increase demand for data.
With many current loans going bad due to collapsed businesses and loss of jobs, the lending business would be receiving huge patronage by people looking to start all over again.
Logistics and Distribution
Commerce and demand for commodities across locations as a result of the impact of current situation and fear of the unknown would create an increasing need for logistics and distribution of commodities.
People will be desperate for quicker ways of making money and lottery would give hope even when such people might end worse off.
So, while we can’t change the reality of the challenges that would arise from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can at least apply wisdom to prepare towards joining the “Cash Cows” when the season changes for good!
The next season is just around the corner! Are you Ready?
Oluwaseun Adesanya is an international consultant with great wealth of experience across several countries. with special interest in fintech, financial inclusion, insurance, innovation, financial services, strategy, social impact, business transformation and technology. He is currently the Group Head, Strategy & Innovation of SystemSpecs, leading financial technology and human capital management firm.