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Nigerian businesses need to position themselves for greater challenges ahead-Stanbic IBTC Bank CEO

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Nigerian businesses need to prepare and brace themselves for a highly challenging period ahead as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts day-to-day life and commerce.

This follows the Federal and State Governments’ recent announcements of a set of bold measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria, including travel bans, school closures and limits to the size of public gatherings.

“While these actions are necessary and commendable, they are steering businesses into uncharted territory,” says Dr DemolaSogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. “The operating environment, already difficult following years of lacklustre growth will become even more challenging in the weeks ahead.”

As this health and economic crisis unfold, large organisations will have to contend with the challenge of managing complex operations across multiple entities and geographies – each with its own set of measures in place to tackle the pandemic.

“There is now a pressing need for effective risk mitigation and business continuity measures and these must include partner firms, suppliers and other stakeholders,” says Dr.Sogunle.

In numerous industries, supply chains and cash flows are being severely disrupted, particularly for those businesses involved in cross-border trade. This makes planning more crucial than ever.

With this in mind, organisations should consider the early loading and planning of payments, as well as intensive cash-flow management and liquidity planning. Those businesses that have lending facilities in place should assess whether these can cope with changed or disrupted cash flows.

Also, businesses involved in cross-border trade can consider measures that reduce the impact on cash flows. Letters of credit, for instance, have a lesser impact on cash flows than upfront deposits. And the disruption of physical trade flows might require an alignment of the associated cash flows.

Meanwhile, the health and safety of employees, clients, and other stakeholders need to be top of mind. Companies should consider separating teams and allowing employees to work remotely, where possible, although the persistence of load-shedding does complicate remote work.

As more employees work from home, connectivity will be key. To enable this, teams could be provided with larger data bundles and afforded remote and secure access to internal systems. And with employees working in new environments, communication will be crucial to ensure that staff are well-informed and reassured, as well as productive.

Comprehensive policies and protocols applicable to both staff and clients are essential. Naturally, hygiene within the workplace and externally is of paramount importance – access to hand sanitizers, for instance, could prevent the spread of the virus.

“It is extremely important that companies remain calm and keep working effectively. Stanbic IBTCrecognises that it has a responsibility to do everything it can to help clients keep their businesses and their lives on track”, Dr.Sogunle says.

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