Entrepreneurship, a vaccine to the coronavirus-hit economy and jobs?

Entrepreneurship, a vaccine to the coronavirus-hit economy and jobs?

The terrifying memories of the 2008-09 global recession are fresh in the minds. The impact was greater than the Great Depression of 1930s. The coronavirus outbreak poses an even greater threat. The pandemic has crippled the human world to a pause, having devastating effects on lives, livelihoods and has shattered the most robust of healthcare systems.

United Nations’ (UN) International Labour Organization (ILO) forecasts approximately 20 crore job losses across the world.

“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies. We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse,” Guy Ryder, the ILO director-general was recently quoted.

ILO reports a new study that claims, “According to the new study, 1.25 billion workers are employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of “drastic and devastating” increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours. Many are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income is devastating.”

According to ILO, the latest calamitous calculation echoes the full or partial lockdown measures touching almost 2.7 billion workers.

Food and accommodation (144 million workers), retail and wholesale (482 million), business services and administration (157 million) and manufacturing (463 million) are the sectors which have observed the drastic effects of the novel coronavirus. Together, they comprise to 37.5 per cent of global employment.

At the turn of the New Year, less than three-and-half months back, little did the world know that the headlines of Wuhan would reduce the human world to nothingness. The corona wave consumed nations like China, the US, Italy, France, among many others, and has now set sights on India, where over 9,000 people have already been affected.

Already under lockdown for three weeks, the script follows a similar tale for India, a nation of over 1.35 billion. The central government declared a US$22.6 billion package to aid the needy who are affected by the outbreak. But the scenario has transformed every sector to being needy.

The lockdown has severely impacted the supply side of the economy, that is, distribution and production of goods and services, except for the essential products.  The increasing unemployment and sinking of trade results and profits, a supply-side restraint would deliver a big blow, risking growth scenes and social and economic comfort of a large people in the country.

The economy will hamper on the unrestricted activities like travel and tourism; labour concentrated sectors such as construction and industries of non-essential items.

The high-power parts in terms of risk on account of coronavirus are restaurants, jewellery, hotels, restaurants, retail, shipping and port services. Whereas the sectors including, building materials, automobiles, real estates may have a medium impact while the low impact areas such as dairy products, education, fertilisers, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and healthcare among others.

“Consequently, many entities are expected to face working capital blockage as their receivables get stretched, and inventory doesn’t run-down simultaneously,” the rating agency ICRA states.

So, even if the virus spread is controlled, the lockdown has begun steamrolling many sectors. The hospitality, service and the manufacturing sectors have already in the middle of the sea without a lifejacket.

Add the informal economy into the equation, 40 crore Indians may fall into deep poverty and worldwide, the forecasted number is two billion, i.e. over a fourth of the world’s population.

India’s struggles with unemployment are no secrets, and the pandemic only adds coffins to the situation. A survey conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd (CMIE) states that the unemployment rate was 23.4 per cent for the week ended on April 5.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI), at equal intervals, reviews to guide various investors in the economy, and the results show a grim economic outlook. The recent reviews result that demand conditions will depreciate for the manufacturing sector, which also deciphered into the gloom on the overall business situation for the year.

Also, ICRA further stated, "The Indian economy is likely to witness a sharp contraction of 4.5 per cent (de-growth) during Q4 FY20 and is expected to recover gradually, to post a GDP growth of just 2 per cent in FY21".

Worldwide economic stoppage and lockdowns are likely to affect sectors with a high need for global demand, especially that of critical stuck markets such as South-East Asia, Europe and North-America, the rating agency added.

According to the estimates based on the National Sample Survey (NSS) and Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), about 136 million non-agricultural jobs are at immediate risk. These are people who don't have a written agreement and include labourers, those who work in non-registered nano-industries, registered small companies and even the self-employed.

History has taught us on how crises have developed our societies through impactful waves of innovation. The Spanish Flu helped healthcare systems get better, the learnings from the World Wars made the world more inclusive, and the global recessions in 2008-09 opened the doors for app-based tech start-ups. There's a silver lining somewhere. Entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge, and with the employment scenario looking bleaker than never before, entrepreneurship seems like the way forward.

The world's post-pandemic future will be very different. The lasting impact will remain for years. The changing world will have a different set of demands attuned to the needs. And this opens up numerous opportunities. From health-tech, psychology-related to service to entertainment to the management of funds, the possibilities are endless and therefore, utilising your time in upskilling and studying markers, rather than fretting over the job security during these tough times would be beneficial.

Globally, many businesses have sprung into action to do the needful in this hour of crisis. Clothing giants like H&M, Zara and others are producing protective gears; automotive and electronic companies have plunged into the field to support the healthcare systems by manufacturing life-saving devices; distilleries are producing hand sanitisers. Even several start-ups have been in the frontline battling the crisis. 

Crises also bring down or scale up a company/individual's reputation. Post corona, many entities that have panicked or lacked robust contingency plan are likely to perish, and there lie numerous opportunities for newer players.

Opportunities will also lie in the integration of online and offline offerings. Companies have also realised how technologies like conferencing and work-from-home tools will reduce the operation, travel and real-estate cost, resulting in lowering carbon emissions.

Starting up isn’t easy. Even in the most favourable scenario, it can leave one vulnerable — emotionally and financially. These are the unsettling times. But no climate is favourable to leap in these waters of uncertainty. With jobs under the axe already, maybe now is the time. Also, never before has the world needed entrepreneurial spirits like now.

You need to look for that hope amid the looming dark clouds on humankind. It's instead an opportunity to reflect on the situations and recognise what can be done differently to change the tide. You must choose to walk in a place of power and peace, learn to pivot and learn to make a new normal out of the situation quickly.

Also, there never was a better time to get stuck in a pandemic situation. The world is connected, and the options are numerous. Dance studios have taken their class schedule online and live stream, and so on. There’s an opportunity to expand your reach or adapt your service.  On the other side, if you are a product-based business but sell in person, you can start thriving online.

But how will you generate the idea? Who will be expertise? How can you generate the money from it? Several online programmes can help you learn the ropes.

APG Learning’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) is structured as a step-by-step approach to help individuals with entrepreneur mind-set to understand the processes involved in identifying and establishing a successful and sustainable venture.

EDP primarily helps to progress the skills that contribute to learn or scale-up the business using suitable guidelines. The programme also delves into advance strategies of marketing along with planning.

The EDP course has helped the course-pursuers with necessary ropes of entrepreneurship with revenue-generation models at the centre.

Talking to Sakal Times, Ayan Mahapatra, Business Head of APG Learning said, “The coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill. If reports are believed true, there may be job loss for many individuals. But fear not, this is the best time to join the EDP. People in the lockdown generally spending time at home can take this online course. Any entrepreneur who wishes to learn something new or to upscale his or her business must take EDP.”

The EDP is an online course with no physical attendance required, and one can go through all the 11 modules online.  The duration of the course is three months. Click here to know more.

Those who have dived into it, they say ‘entrepreneurship, for all its risk, is worth it'. Training and the right knowledge can also phase off the self-doubts, and you will only know when you try it

In a venture-capitalist meeting in California, in November 2004, Paul Romer, the noted American economist and former chief economist at the World Bank, had famously said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

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