The Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conducted this business survey in order to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on various enterprises in Zambia, including large, medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) and cooperatives. It proposes recommendations on relevant policies and provides baselines for international organizations to design projects that will assist the private sector to survive.
The objective of the survey was to learn about the socio-economic situation of large, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the COVID -19 crisis in Zambia, in order to propose comprehensive actions aimed at improving their economic situation and situation in the market.
Key findings in this report are as follows:
(i) Covid-19 has adversely affected business operation with 71% of the respondents indicating that they were partially closed while 14% of businesses were totally closed. Only 15% reported to have maintained normal operations.
(ii) The Education, Transport and Catering and Accommodation Sectors were impacted particularly hard compared to others like Health and Social Work, Energy among others. 85% of the organisations working in Education reported to be completely closed, while 60% of businesses in the Human Health and Social Work sector maintained normal operations
(iii) Covid-19 has caused a number of challenges to enterprises, with the most significant challenges being loss of customers rated at 77.3 % of the total responding enterprises. Other reported challenges include supply chain cuts at 37.7%, high commodity prices/ material prices reported at 36.0 % and problems with late payments at 32.3% among others. These challenges are expected to affect operating revenue for enterprises.
(iv) To keep afloat during the pandemic period some businesses have adopted measures, ranging from communicating with employees about layoff and temporal salary reductions reported by 37.3% of the total responding enterprises. Flexible shifts, working from home was reported by 33.6%, with those reported to have shutdown certain productions lines and outlets rated at 22.8%), resumption of work and production as soon as possible at 169% among other measures.
(v) The Survey noted that the majority enterprises are determined to continue their operations by adhering to the new normal requirement during the Covid-19 outbreak. Enterprises have further resolved to adopt new development strategy by embracing and exploration of new business models (45%), accelerating technological, product and services innovation (57%), and strengthening global reach of supply chain and expansion of overseas market (21%). However, 7% of the total responding enterprises reported to have failed to cope with the epidemic and expressed their intention to withdraw from the market.
(vi) In terms of support, an overwhelming number of enterprises indicated that it is of uttermost important for government to come up with policy decisions that will support the business environment to economically re-activate business operation such as cash grants (76%), followed by loan facilities (51%), equipment (45%), improvements to market access (44%), improved information about markets and prices (41%), digital media training (23%, alternative payment methods to cash (16%) and legal support (13%).