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“At the heart of the strategy is a strong belief…that systemic problems require systemic solutions” (MIT Sloan associate deans, Fiona Muray and Ray Reagans)

Businesses usually spend the last quarter of the year reflecting on how they have done and using the lessons learned in planning for the year ahead, while also keeping a keen eye on government’s financial plans as revealed in the budget – which will be tabled this month.

The 2021 calendar year has been tougher on the private sector than any other time in memory due to the global pandemic. A study by Wits University on accounting and governance in the context of covid-19  suggests that the danger of the covid-19 pandemic and resultant restrictions on businesses is the knock-on effects and  the negative impact in the short-to-medium term and short-to-long term, rather than the immediate impact.

The knock from 2020, when the pandemic was first declared, was apparent in the first half of 2021 – with record breaking rates in demand for capital and liquidations.

So how did the businesses who made it through 2021 do it?
  1. Proactive accounting and governance
    Good quality accounting and governance with qualified finance professionals helped these companies navigate through the storm. Particularly in addressing the necessary extra expenses involved in setting up remote working and communication systems and equipment for their staff and even, in some situations, the costs of Personal Protective Equipment.
  2. Loans
    The South African Reserve Bank reported that “Year-on-year growth in total loans and advances extended by monetary institutions to the domestic private sector accelerated slightly between March and October 2021, after slowing markedly since the onset of the national lockdown. The gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions boosted the demand for loans by companies in particular, although growth remained subdued.”
  3. Good saving habits
    Reducing spending on anything but necessities was essential during the pandemic, and it is interesting to note that South African saving trends were at an 11-year high by the end of the Second Quarter of 2021. This was amid fears of an uncertain future due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the rate remained high towards the end of last year. The South African Reserve Bank said that the high rate was driven up by higher savings by companies and households.
  4. Embracing digital
    Businesses that survived and even, in some circumstances, flourished during the global slowdown, used the opportunity as a means to be innovative and embrace digital, and where appropriate and possible, they developed or expanded their online offerings. This included keeping their essential staff busy by investing in systems to enable them to work remotely.The CEO of IBM, Arvind Krishna famously said, “When we look at the usage of AI and cloud, I think it is especially going to accelerate also not just us, but how our clients are going to go on their digital transformations. And I believe this crisis is only going to accelerate that as we go over the next few months.”

Ask a professional for tips on how to use these lessons effectively as the pandemic continues.

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