“SMEs are being resilient in the face of the adversity and we praise their efforts”

The Australian bushfires
2019-March 2020

The blazes that tore across Australia during the beginning of the year left devastation in it’s wake. According to this report by independent online media platform Mirage News1 70% of small businesses have been dramatically impacted by the disaster.

In response, National Australia Bank announced $1 billion in concessional loans at a reduced rate to support customers affected.

NAB welcomed the Federal Government’s establishment of a National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the $2 billion Recovery Fund, and has worked closely with the Agency and other partners to assist impacted communities.

“Regional businesses and agribusinesses are incredibly resilient and government and banks are working together to help them through this,” said Chief Customer Officer, Business & Private Banking, Anthony Healy.

Further details are available here2 in a report by Dr Shane Oliver, Head of Investment Strategy and Economics and Chief Economist for AMP Capital.

The Black Lives Matter movement
July

The tragic death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered by police in Minnesota, incited worldwide protests.

This saw the reinforcement of the Black Lives Matter movement and has shone the light on the hardships experienced by black-owned SMEs.

As this telling article in The Guardian3, states, a National Bureau of Economic Research study found that the number of Black-owned businesses fell by 41% during the first few months of the pandemic.

But while systemic change will take time, thanks to Black Lives Matter and other protest movements the level of awareness of the plight of Black-owned businesses has soared. Big brands including Facebook and American Express  are offering hundreds of millions of dollars in generous grant programmes specifically for Black entrepreneurs.

The explosion in Beirut
August

A colossal explosion in Lebanon saw as many as 300,000 people being made homeless and collective losses might reach £8-11 billion according to this report by BBC4.

Approximately 10,000 businesses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people without an income. Here5, the United Nations Development Programme states how it is prioritising the restoration of livelihoods and small businesses.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death
September

The passing of the feminist pioneer was a tragedy.
The supreme court judge brought constant focus to
gender-based discrimination, such as the struggles experienced by female-led businesses.

This report by Prowess, an organisation that delivers women-friendly business start-up support across the UK, reveals that we still have a long way to go before the gender gap is rectified. More support schemes such as this programme initiated in Bristol7 would be welcome.

Looking forward

While we have endured a bleak period, SMEs must be commended for their incredible endurance. As Business News Wales8 reports: “SMEs are being resilient in the face of the adversity and we praise their efforts to adapt their business models, find different and innovative ways to increase income as well as diversifying into new markets.” 

Footnote:

1/Mirage News, 02/03/2020
2/Dr S Oliver, Everalls Wealth Management, 16/01/2020
3/The Guardian, 27/08/2020
4/BBC, 11/08/2020
5/United Nations Development Programme, 11/09/2020
6/Prowess Women In Business, 2019
7/H Baker, Business Live, 24/08/2020
8/M Powney, Business News Wales, 05/10/2020