Zim selected for AU Covid-19 impact study on small businesses

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Harare, (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe is one of five African countries selected for an African Union (AU) study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses with a view to coming up with lasting solutions for their recovery and growth, the AU has said.

This follows a study of 490 small businesses that revealed that 95 percent of African small businesses had not received any government financial support to recover from the effects of coronavirus imposed lockdowns.

Alongside Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal and Sudan, Zimbabwe was chosen for an initiative called the Rollo Africa Business Simulation Programme, which is a partnership between the AU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Africalabs, to support SMEs and informal sector recovery after the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The simulation uses real life policies and events to create an understanding of how SMEs, including the informal sector, make decisions during the Covid-19 outbreak,” the AU said.

“The simulation exercise will translate into understanding responses and behaviours during COVID-19, allow businesses to encapsulate the implications of different policies on the ground, and document good practices to harness these policies.”

The simulation was currently underway at KMT House in Egypt, Active Spaces in Cameroon, Jokko Labs in Senegal, Savannah in Sudan, and Izone hub in Zimbabwe, the continental body said.

“UNDP and the African Union will extract learning from the simulation exercise to provide evidence-based policy recommendations to governments on business stimulus packages,” the AU said.

According to the survey, 93 percent of the 490 businesses said they had been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but got no help to navigate the difficult environment from their governments.

“The few respondents who benefitted from government aid received amounts totalling $40-$50 in local currency,” the AU said.

“The survey also found that the most affected businesses were founded in 2019, possibly an outcome of high instability and risks associated with the first year of operations, as well as the spread of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns.”
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