COVID-19 is officially a Global pandemic. As the world prepares for a recession, as a result of the aftermath of COVID-19, Nigerian startups are hustling to deal with the ongoing health crisis and economic consequences.
Across the country, a number of state Governments have all declared a lockdown and strict measures such as being asked to “self-quarantine” and practise “social distancing.” inorder to curtail the spread of the virus .
Particularly in Lagos which is the commercial capital of Nigeria, where a handful of cases in the country were being reported, had prompted many startups and businesses to shut down and all forced to initiate remote working measures. At large, organisations are puzzled, whilst still struggling to get a handle on what the potential spread of coronavirus could mean for their workforces.
For founders & CEO’s, their focus on disruption and innovation is now being used to rapidly assess fast-changing developments including assessing organisational risk exposure, Implication, figuring out how – to navigate the crisis and increase agility to appropriately support key stakeholders, employees and customers
Sadly, There are no perfect answers, just best judgements and countless unknowns over supply chains, volatile markets and the impact of travel bans and social distancing. It will be impossible to keep everyone happy.
According to the World Economic Forum, “ As business close to help prevent transmission of COVID-19, financial concerns and job losses are one of the first human impacts of the virus”
Nigerian Startups seem to clearly have an eye on both – the impact and the opportunities – that the pandemic brings to the fore.
Yes to remote working
In response to this a growing number of Tech co-working spaces hubs such as CChub, Hub-One, Ventures Platform, Impact-hub etc were forced to completely shut down. Whilst, a lot of Tech startups across the country have joined their counterparts around the globe to roll out/embrace mandatory Work-From-Home (WFH) policy .
In a bid to ease employees’ burdens, some startups such as paystack, hotels.ng BuyCoins are reportedly either paying staff early, taking care of additional costs to be incurred on the internet and electricity.
NIGERIAN TECH Startups VS COVID
Some of the startups include :
According to public statement released & information gathered, its offices have been shut down to external guests from March 20. Additionally all employees were required to embrace remote Working which they seemed prepared for . In its preparedness all also paid salaries early on , providing short lets for staff with power issues including other perks such covering Internet cost , and signing out office chairs and monitors to ease working from home .
In a recent tweet from the founder , Mark Essien, – Hotel booking platform Hotels.ng has partnered with hotels to create isolation centers across Nigeria, an added buffer for the country’s limited quarantine facilities.
Interestingly, Some Startups that have turned Covid-19 crisis into a chance to serve
- Lifebank – Founded by Temi Giwa is a health startup that finds and delivers blood to patients has turned its attention to seeking critical medical equipment for Covid-19 treatment and has created a national register to track hospitals with working ventilators and respirators.
- Created a national directory of hospitals that have functional ventilator and respirators and provides key medical supplies to Covid-19 Patients
- Jumia Nigeria – Donation of face masks to Nigeria’s health ministry and has replicated the gesture in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Morocco. Jumia has also offered its logistics network to distribute health products for local authorities.
- 54 Genes – One year-old genomics research startup 54gene has setup a $500,000 fund to support local testing capacity for coronavirus.
- CChub, Ventures Platform – partnered with the Lagos science and research agency to find and fund innovative tech-based solutions that tackle coronavirus-related issues.
- Civic Hive Hub Abuja – set up a call Centre to call thousands of people with little or zero access to information on how to stay safe at this time. Sharing safety tips, knowledge on symptoms , what to do and advise on why social distancing is important at this time.
- @FlyingDoctorsng :Co-founder of flying doctors Nigeria, Ola Orekurin – In her tweet indicated the donation of 20 cylinders of oxygen has been delivered in a bid to support those affected. Earlier on, in a bid to tackle shortage of medical personnel, she mobilized medical and non- medical volunteers to support the government .
Helping the government fight a damaging pandemic might be seen as a low-hanging PR opportunity for some of these startups but ultimately, their actions will impact ordinary Nigerians for whom aid might have been otherwise out of reach
But the startups’ actions will also inadvertently highlight Nigeria’s biggest healthcare shortcomings too