Mbabane: Southern African Research Foundation for Economic Development (SARFED) has encouraged diversification programmes in the business sector to sustain business operations and livelihoods.
The foundation’s Buhlebezwe Nxumalo said they are against the laying off of workers in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, but of the view that workers should be designated to other sections in the same businesses.
Nxumalo made an example of food outlets like restaurants which have been immensely affected due to limited movement of people in observance of the COVID-19 pandemic, interfering in the flow of customers into shops. Nxumalo said restaurants could rather opt to cook the food and hand-deliver it to their customers.
He said with diversification initiatives, it would be a win-win situation for both businesses and customers. Nxumalo emphasised on pro-activeness on the part of businesses in the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, saying if a door closes there should always be another one opening.
As an educational programme SARFED gets knowledge, analyses and disseminates it to the relevant parties especially small and upcoming businesses.
Nxumalo said there were high expectations for huge job losses in the private business sector as most of them might lay off their workers in an attempt to cut down operating costs hence the need for diversification initiatives.
He went on to say there is a need to strengthen the relief strategy for urban communities, especially the low-income earners as government fights the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
SARFED recently applauded government on its urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic by setting guidelines to prevent the spread of the pandemic and they felt obliged to come in and assist in the business aspect.
In the organisation’s latest business and economic article which seeks to give the first contextual progress report on government of Eswatini’s response to the pandemic, SARFED noted that government had taken drastic and dynamic measures that resulted in the enforcement of partial economic lockdown in combat against the pandemic.
They stated that the various resource mobilisation measures that resulted to the raise of over E76 million within the month of April were also observed, among others.
SARFED also applauded the stakeholder engagement by government, noting that there was a positive trend of cooperation among stakeholders with the government of Eswatini in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic especially among large firms both foreign and locally-owned.
The programme has found the need to engage businesses especially young people and tomorrow, May 20, in collaboration with Junior Achievement Eswatini (JAE) they will be hosting a youth workshop aimed at educating young entrepreneurs on ways to undertake during this period where businesses have nose-dived due to COVID-19.