Uganda has seen steady growth in the last decades. Together with the rest of Africa, there's a transformation from an economically backward society to becoming the world's most exciting economic frontier. At the center of this transformation are the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In Uganda, the SMEs are the engine for economic development, innovation and wealth creation. 

SMEs are spread across all sectors with 49 percent in the service sector, 33 percent in commerce and trade, 10 percent in manufacturing and 8 percent in other fields. It is also estimated that over 2.5 million Ugandans are employed in this sector where they account for approximately 90 percent of the entire private sector, generating over 80 percent of manufactured output and an estimated 20 percent of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In light of COVID-19, the global pandemic that's ravaging the global economy, the SME sector that's already been enduring multiple challenges has been deeply hurt. In a desperate bid to control and manage the spread of COVID-19, the government has been inclined to lock down the country and the effects are being felt virtually in every walk of life. With the COVID-19 lockdown in effect, productivity is almost down to the bare minimum and no certainty on how long this economic nightmare might last. This can only work to accentuate a situation that already needed a profound shift. While projections vary, many public health experts don't expect the coronavirus to end tomorrow, and even if it does, the economic atmosphere may never be the same.

According to Edirisa Sembatya Managing Director at Finding XY, right now is the time from SMEs owners accept change and be more resilient. SMEs have to embrace online transactions and service delivery on top of their existing business infrastructure. Managers should change from measuring performance by activities done and physical presence to productivity or output. By quickly changing the mindset, small and growing businesses can stay solvent. Therefore, SMEs should explore alternative means to enable them stay in business which all starts with realizing alternative sales channels, the use of online portals for E-commerce and the new media to market, coupled with efficient distribution systems. As we pay attention to measures put in place by the government through its Task Force on Coronavirus, let’s also realize the need to change. Much as the consumers are not entirely on their normal spending habits, getting rid of existing stock through e-commerce sets you the right track to for change.   

At Finding XY we believe small business owners should be looking to bridge the knowledge gaps - acquainting yourself with knowledge of opportunities that exist locally and in foreign markets. You should be enriching yourself in the knowledge of the laws and regulations regarding trading in the region. Because SMEs are the very fabric of our communities, we can only hope that the government will equally come up with strategies and stimulus packages to avert this economic catastrophe that's been created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not all hope is gone for the acknowledgment of a single possibility can change everything!

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Merab Twinomugisha.

Project Analyst at Finding XY