Entrepreneurs Humanitarian Response To Pandemic

Entrepreneurs Humanitarian Response To Pandemic

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The COVID-19 outbreak has wreaked havoc on the increasingly chaotic world. Business and economic crises cannot be as critical concerns as people’s lives. However, the business world is indeed stepping up to address both the livelihood and lives. It is employment that can assist individuals in paying their way through healthcare or other necessities of life. Many entrepreneurs are struggling to keep their companies afloat and employees safe while combating the pandemic. On the other hand, few entrepreneurs are searching for ways to help within their communities and beyond.

With the crisis upon us, the most logical step right now is to act human and endeavor into humanitarian efforts. Many billionaires have already stood up to their words and are proving that it’s possible to do well and do good at the same time. A prime example is Zoom—the videoconferencing company. Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, has offered free accounts to any K-12 school that has had to shutter due to COVID-19. This in-kind donation of service will allow students to keep up with their academics without further taxing school budgets. In addition to this, Microsoft announced that they will keep paying the hourly workers who support their campus. And Google established a COVID-19 fund that enables all temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined.

Not all businesses will indeed be eligible to contribute in the same way, as many have been struggling on their own, but there can be several ways an entrepreneur can contribute in this time of needs.

The Three Vital ‘Whats’ To Ask

Entrepreneurs have been highly involving themselves in philanthropic activities as a way to give back to the community. Not everyone can support philanthropic endeavors but there are several creative ways that may help even small companies to contribute in times of need. A director of the social impact at the Kellogg School, Meghan Kashner, highlighted the three important questions a leader can ask himself in order to help in ingenious ways that almost any company can be of use to those in need.

What do We do?

What is your core business and how can that be of use to the community? As mentioned above, Zoom’s free video conferencing service for schools can be listed in this category.

Though entrepreneurs do not need to make enormous initiatives to help others. Little assistance can also go for a long way, consider Disney Plus’s decision to stream Frozen 2 three months before schedule as a gift to parents restricted at home with their kids.

Also, several media platforms are stepping forward by assisting the non-profits in making a public-health-related announcement for free during the COVID-19 outbreak. By leveraging their core competencies and services to make paddling through this crisis easier for the ones in the frontline.

Likewise, several newspapers across the world are placing an article about the pandemic beyond their paywalls for the duration of the crisis.

What Do We Have?

Business leaders think about what resources they have that could be of use elsewhere. Do they have money, expertise, facilities, people, or inventory to share with community organizations?

There can be numerous strategies like assisting small business or non-profit that maybe scrambling amid crisis. Or with the guidance of the finance team draw a plan to help another organization figure out how to best make payroll or prioritize accounts. The entrepreneurs should look beyond geographical demographics to help communities.

Kashner also highlights that the charitable foundations have also enacted meaningful changes to help their grant recipients by relaxing grant rules and procedures. For instance, in a different approach, the Eisner Foundation has said that any of its grants can be converted to general operating money. They said, if you have a grant from us now and it is for a specific program, forget it. It can now function as a general operating grant. You, the non-profit leader, you decide what you need to use it for.

Entrepreneurs have to focus on their assets and use them wisely to ensure prolific results.

What Could You Do?

The current crisis may mean scarcer business for some companies right now, this leading to reduced ways to lend people or products to other organizations, but what could you be doing with your resources to help?

Currently, there was a major shortage of sanitizers globally. As heed to this challenge, several small distilleries are converting part of their operations to manufacturing hand sanitizer—even though in extremely short supply. Many are giving it away and are focusing on supplying healthcare workers and first responders. This means to produce something that feels a bit adjacent to the core business but would aid others in the community.

Even as a smaller business, entrepreneurs can use creative measures to avoid the halt in business as well as give back to the community. As an example, the breakfast and lunch café at Chicago, Baker Miller, has teamed up with the local chefs that are facing high uncertainty to create gourmet take-out dinners. By expanding beyond its normal hours and normal employees, Baker-Miller us able to help others in the network of local restaurants.

Methodologies like this will not only ensure business continuity but also offer employment in this time of uncertainty.

While helping others survive the crisis entrepreneurs must not forget their own business. In addition to looking outward, companies that are focused on their own employees are often also helping their communities. One of the best things that these businesses can do for their communities is to remain a viable business—remain an employer.

World Needs to Act Promptly

The COVID-19 outbreak has increased worldwide exceeding a count of 13 million-plus by far. This pandemic has drastically affected America, where the number accounts for 30% of the global cases. Professionals believe that the resurgence of the virus is highly dependent on two unknowns,

Inherent characteristics of the virus i.e. infection mortality rate and duration of immunity
Countries’ response to the virus

On the economic outlook, globally, executives believe that economic recovery will be bumpy and slow. However, success is possible for the organizations successfully adapting fast to the new circumstances and following key practices such as rewiring ways of working, reimaging organizational structure, and readapting talent. The business leaders must understand the COVID-19 impact and how it will further affect the business. They must be equipped with steps to protect their employees, customers, supply chains, and financial results.

Apart from this, there are other forces shaping the new normal,

Metamorphosis Of Demand

B2B purchasers and consumers are accelerating the adoption of digital. Non- discretionary spending is recovering however, discretionary spending remains low.

An Altered Workforce

Many companies have achieved a successful transition to remote work. This has shifted the demand for labor and there is a strong need for reskilling.

Changes in Resiliency Expectations

COVID-19 has highlighted the historical supply chain disruption and companies are choosing to increase supply chain resilience. Companies are leveraging several tools to increase resiliency such as assets divestments, SKU rationalization.

Regulatory Uncertainty

The distribution of COVID-19 stimulus packages has created unprecedented uncertainty. This has led to further growing pressure for new regulations and legislation to favor and ‘protect’ domestic economic activity.

Evolution of Virus

Despite the public health realities, economies are reopening. Consequently, the understanding of the virus continues to grow with new studies on testing, transition, and treatment arising each day. Following this, there are constant changes in the set of safety interventions to protect citizens.

To survive in the new normal, it is important for the companies to understand and explicitly address the aforementioned forces.

Global Humanitarian Challenge

To summarize, as per the recent significant disasters like the 2003 SARS pandemic, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, the wide-ranging disaster relief and humanitarian community has focused mostly on the response, with diminutive attention or resources devoted to prevention and awareness. Presently, there are thousands of health professionals who are heroically battling the virus whilst working on the frontline. Governments and industry are working together to understand and address the challenge, support the victims and their families and communities, along with continuously researching for treatments and a vaccine.

The pandemic is first and foremost, a global humanitarian challenge. Apart from the economic downfall, there are many other challenges to encounter. The COVID outbreak has further spurred the anxiety and negativity around people and in times like this helping each other is becoming more vital. Facilitating and being of service to others in a positive way to counter the negativity surrounding everyone. A little act of kindness can go a long way, thus, the entrepreneurs must become leaders and look around for steps that can help during this challenging time for the world.

Vidya Joshi
(Content Writer)

Also, Read Our Latest Issue Prominent Entrepreneurs Fighting Pandemic

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West has been driving the business world owing to its developed economies. The leading part of the world is straining to sustain its dominance. However, the other parts of the world, especially Asia Pacific region have been displaying escalating growth in terms of business and technological advancements.

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