The COVID, Business and Society Seminar (COBUSS) series, organised by the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), primarily seeks to engage thought leaders on important topics relating to the current state of the world, and Ghana in particular, as we all grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and society at large. In another interactive and informative session of the series, two speakers shared their thoughts with the participants of this seminar. They were in the persons of Dr. Vinod Sutaria, a corporate professional, and an author in the United States of America (USA), and Dr. George Acheampong, a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, UGBS. This session was moderated by Professor Justice N. Bawole, the Dean of the University of Ghana Business School.
Presenting on the theme “Understanding the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19,” Dr. Vinod Sutaria’s opening remarks answered the question of why it is important to study the above topic in the first place. He remarked that an understanding of the issues surrounding COVID-19 and its socio-economic impact will afford us the ability to better comprehend the severe consequences of the global health crisis on major economies. He then touched on the impacts of COVID-19, focusing on the socio-economic implications of this pandemic on Ghana. Dr. Sutaria also shed some light on strategies for business survival and suggested some ideas on what the future holds. He further cited an IMF projection for growth in 2020 and 2021, which anticipates that world economies can recover in 2021 only if they are able to, first of all, contain the virus and, secondly, implement measures to curb bankruptcies and layoffs. In Ghana, he stated, “the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 will be realised in the reduction of foreign direct investment (FDI), trade volume disruptions in agriculture, changes in commodity prices, the decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, shocks in the financial sector and a slowdown in the global economy, respectively”.
In his closing remarks, he opined that policies and strategies such as the provision of stimulus packages should be implemented to help cushion the shocks felt by businesses in the country.
In a similar fashion, Dr. George Acheampong presented his thoughts on the theme “Entrepreneurial Strategies and Pandemics”, where he explored the history of pandemics the world has encountered like the bubonic plague, the current pandemic and its impacts, and what entrepreneurial strategies can offer to help mitigate its impact. He mentioned that present-day business approaches or theories geared towards addressing the impact of pandemics on business are inadequate and so new methods and strategies must be explored. Subsequently, he proposed the entrepreneurial strategy as a remedy to the situation. Throwing more light on this strategy, Dr. Acheampong stated that the perception of entrepreneurship as just the process of starting and owning a business must be changed to accommodate its broader meaning. Here, he explained that businesses adopt an entrepreneurial strategy when they innovatively establish themselves such that they build the capacity to survive and prosper in their chosen environment in light of such business shocks. “The key thing is that those that survive are those that are able to be continually innovative and survive environmental dynamics, because no business is an island and so a good entrepreneurial strategy is one that enables the company to behave like a chameleon and change itself continuously in the space within which it will find itself”, he added. His closing remarks reiterated the fact that pandemics, such as COVID-19, destabilise business environments, which necessitates the adoption of entrepreneurial strategies to ensure survival.
Participants were allowed to ask questions and make contributions at the end of both presentations.
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