By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The ongoing health pandemic has affected entrepreneurs in Cameroon both positively and negatively, according to some entrepreneurs in the country.
In a webinar on May 21 organized by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC) of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation under the theme “The Economic impact of COVID-19 on Entrepreneurship in Cameroon and the way forward”, the entrepreneurs noted that businesses have had to reinvent so as not die.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching economic consequences and efforts to quarantine have not been effective which has provoked an unprecedented downturn in the global economy,” a release from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC) read in part.
According to GICAM, “the proportion of companies negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic increased from 92% to 96.6% between May and June 2020.” This estimate is obtained based on a sample of more than 250 companies consulted between May and June 2020 with 25% of which were big companies and 75% of SMEs.
According to the IMF report, the informal sector in Cameroon contributes 20 to 30% to the country’s GDP. The COVDI-19 pandemic has had far-reaching economic consequences beyond the spread of the disease itself, and efforts to quarantine it have not been effective, therefore, provoking an unprecedented downturn in the global economy.
This webinar was geared towards creating a platform for stakeholders to discuss how the pandemic has affected the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cameroon and to suggest better adaptability strategies that entrepreneurs can use to meet up with their business needs and profitability.
Speaking during the webinar Christel Youbi, CEO AM Group said: “While COVID-19 was an obstacle for others, it became quite an opportunity especially for those in the digital sector as the pandemic increased market demand since everything became virtual.”
“Entrepreneurs in Cameroon need to digitalise their business and also get insurance toto help the fight against future pandemics,” Dr Jean-Cedric Kouam, Deputy Director of Economic Affairs Division of the Nkafu policy Institute said on the impact of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has led to a massive growth of the digital space in Cameroon. The pandemic has led to a decrease in the demand for raw materials and given this is Cameroon’s main export the state budget was affected. This, in turn, dealt with the growth of small businesses.”
“Thanks to the pandemic many entrepreneurs have adopted digital marketing. Today many small businesses in Cameroon are making huge sales online and also through home delivery. This is innovative,” Fien Rosette, Founder and Managing Director of Keyvey Foods Sarl said.
“From raw materials through production to distribution, the pandemic has affected Cameroonian entrepreneurs in just every way.”
According to the International Labour Organization, almost 1.6 billion workers in the informal sector are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a 60 per cent decline in their earnings. For these workers, discontinuing work or working remotely is not an option because they could lose their jobs and livelihoods.