Scroll down to watch the full interview with Etisalat as part of their SMB Talks Series.
The unprecedented spread of COVID-19 has caused a global upheaval on many fronts and severely impacted economies across the world. As the pandemic continues to grip the news, affect communities, businesses and the economy, and change the way we are living and working, there is one sector in particular that is struggling under the stain of the crisis probably more than any other.
In this article, we are taking a look at how COVID-19 has impacted small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the UAE and how Virtuzone can support them.
COVID-19’s Impact on SMBs in the UAE
Thankfully, the recent incidence of COVID-19 in the UAE is fairly low in comparison to other countries. At the very onset, the UAE government adopted several quick response measures to curb the spread of the virus, including restrictions on domestic and international travel, mandated operational restrictions, social distancing, and regular sterilization programmes. While these precautionary measures may have contributed to the country gradually returning to normalcy, those same restrictions have affected business operations significantly. Small and medium-sized businesses, especially, have been severely affected by the slowdown of economic activities, indicating that they may need support during this crisis.
It is a well-known fact that SMBs and start-ups are some of the most important influencers of the UAE’s economic growth.
According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, the SMB sector represents more than 94% of the total number of companies operating in the UAE and contributes towards more than 40% of the non-oil GDP.
The UAE government and the Central Bank of UAE (CBUAE) have showed the spirit of togetherness to withstand the sheer financial impact of COVID-19 on businesses and to enhance liquidity in the country, by rolling out several economic relief packages at a combined AED 256 billion (approx. USD 70 billion). Furthermore, the CBUAE also reduced the amount of capital lenders have to hold for their loans to SMBs by 15% to 25%, plus SMBs can now avail rent relief schemes and loan deferments under the UAE government guidelines.
SMB Talks: Business Continuity Guidance and Support From Virtuzone (Video)
As the leading business setup specialists in Dubai and the UAE, Virtuzone is a strategic company formation partner with Etisalat’s Hello Business Hub that has been supporting SMBs throughout the UAE, since 2018.
In a recent interview with Esam Mahmoud, Senior Vice President for SMB at Etisalat, I talked about the efforts being made at Virtuzone to support SMBs and how we are addressing the impact of COVID-19 while navigating this uncharted territory as a team, and shared advice relating to other small and medium-sized businesses in the UAE.
I believe that SMBs should be open to doing things differently going forward – looking at new technology and new market opportunities, and being flexible, agile and responsive to market demands will help facilitate their economic success, as there are a lot of opportunities opening up right now.
My number one piece of advice is to stay focused on communication. Strengthen your social connections – both professionally and personally. Communicate more!
Relationships with your customers, partners, clients and teams are as important as ever. We at Virtuzone are proud to have been able to enable these relationships to exist and even thrive, despite the physical separation.
Diving into Virtuzone-backed initiatives to support SMBs affected by COVID-19, I talked about Stand Together UAE, a free marketplace platform we have launched with the singular aim of supporting UAE-based businesses that are operating during the pandemic and helping them sustain operations by promoting various services and special offers throughout the course of the current crisis.
People are changing how they communicate and rely on technology in new ways. And as a result, I believe technology will play a more profound role than it did before the crisis. Businesses large and small need to think about how they can communicate and collaborate effectively. From our teams, to our network, to our services and support, Virtuzone is all about ensuring effective communications and stronger connections – especially in the most critical of times.
Quick Business Survival Tips for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses During COVID-19
We have compiled some tips and helpful information for managing small and medium-sized businesses during these challenging times:
- Communicate clearly, promptly and transparently with your employees to harness their potentials. Be diligent in ensuring that your team follows your lead and is considerate of your customer’s needs.
- Inspire confidence in your team to ensure that they are motivated to keep doing their bit to keep the business running.
- Embrace technology to improve efficiencies, control business processes and increase profits. Develop new ways of working with your customers and focus on serving them through digital channels.
- Diversify and restructure existing business platforms by making use of online-based platforms and virtual service provisions to sustain business during travel bans and lockdowns.
- Manage and improve the cash flow by making use of an accounting software.
- Maintain enough working capital to operate through difficult periods. Communicate with your lenders, if you are unable to meet your loan requirements.
- Track your revenue. Determine what segments are working and allocate resources to areas of growth, such as online marketing.
- Help businesses with lower financial resilience to gain support from financial institutions in improving access to affordable capital, credit, loans with easier lending policies and incentives.
- Examine your products, services and marketing strategy, and fine-tune your company’s business model and operations based on macro trends and customer behaviour.
Take control of your business with the tips above and you are far more likely to effectively implement the changes or transformations you embark upon. There is no perfect solution for this economic crisis. But we know we can work together with our employees and our partners to ensure we have the greatest impact on those who need it most.
Looking to set up your own business as a result of COVID-19? At Virtuzone, we help you start your company in the UAE. However, our support extends way beyond that. With our extensive range of business support services and partnerships, we ensure your business gets off to the best start possible.