Assessment Of Coping Strategies Of Small Scale Businesses In Post-Lockdown Era In Benue State
1.1 Background of the Study
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about changes worldwide, including Nigeria. According to KPMG (2020), the pandemic pressured policymakers and supervisory institutions across the globe, sparking off several mitigating initiatives by government agencies to combat the potential negative social-economic impacts on households and businesses. Jorda, Singh, and Taylor (2020) noted that the COVID-19 Pandemic most negatively impacted businesses, while few businesses were positively affected. The virus resulted in bankruptcy and economic shutdown for many industries as consumers stayed at home. The widespread lockdown measures, among other restrictions, immediately and effortlessly affected businesses globally (He and Harris, 2020). This resulted in thwarting the vital parts played by SMEs, such as social inclusion, innovation in rural areas, local employment, and most importantly, the mode of their operation.
Furthermore, as a result of such societal crises, SMEs suffer due to a lack of business continuity strategies. Having solid business consistency strategies in place may assist in mitigating any negative impact on business during a pandemic (Turner and Akinremi, 2020).
The COVID-19 lockdown created severe challenges for SMEs and individuals all over the world. In the view of Ozigi and Umar (2021), the lockdown measure increased poverty rates, food production, money supply, and reduced inflow of foreign exchange resulting from a lack of export and import of products except for essential products, a lack of patronage, a change in the mode of business operation from physical contact to online, and many others. On the other hand, the adverse effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on businesses include interruptions of supply chains, cash flow problems, weaker demand for imported goods and services, inability to meet delivery dates, and increased risk aversion in financial markets (OECD, 2020). Additionally, the novel virus afflicting the global economy had a significant influence on the patronage and cashflow of enterprises. Businesses struggled and many more were on the edge of extinction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown preventative action, according to Ozigi et al. (2021). Hence, most SMEs with insufficient capital outlay went into economic shock, and it is highly unlikely that they will recover from this shock. Thus, this study is aimed at assessing the coping strategies of small-scale businesses in the post-lockdown era.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The sudden emergence of the novel coronavirus has affected the entire world in an unprecedented manner. Thus, as in the year 2020, the issue is gaining momentum day by day owing largely to the growing rate of human-to-human transmission, causing severe respiratory disorders and more damage (Popoola, 2020). The unavailability of clinical vaccinations to battle the virus drove the global introduction of lockdown measures, which were initially used by China’s central government. As a result, between April and June 2020, there were widespread pronouncements of lockdown in over 100 nations (Okon and Ayinde, 2020). This lockdown move became an inevitable option owing to both the anticipated and unanticipated macro-economic shocks that could be triggered by the evolving virus. The exercise entails the closure of all activity-based centres such as schools, hotels, clubs, businesses, and religious houses that could attract a sizable number of people (De Vos, 2020).
However, this restriction imposed on people’s movement in infected countries like Nigeria led to massive losses for SMEs. According to Tang, Bragazzi, and Tang (2020), the COVID-19 lockdown has created severe challenges for SMEs all over the world. The adverse effects include interruptions in supply chains, cash flow problems, weaker demand for imported goods and services, inability to meet delivery dates, and increased risk aversion in financial markets. (OECD, 2020). In the absence of effective coping and resilient strategies, SMEs were at high risk of permanent closure (Wiatt and Jones, 2013).According to Fernandes (2020), due to the challenges faced by SMEs during the lockdown relating to workforce, health and safety, cash flow, supply chain, consumer demand, sales, and marketing, many small businesses switched to e-commerce and online communication platforms to gradually stimulate their business during the period. In regard to the above narratives, this study is generally focused on assessing the coping strategies of SMEs during the COVID-19 lockdown.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The primary and general goal of this study is to critically assess the coping strategies of small-scale businesses in the post-lockdown era.
Specifically, the study will be focused on:
- Ascertain the extent to which the COVID-19 lockdown affected SMEs in Nigeria.
- Identify the various ways the COVID-19 lockdown significantly affected SMEs in Nigeria.
- Investigate the coping/survival strategies adopted by SMEs during the lockdown.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will guide this study:
- To what extent did the COVID-19 lockdown affected SMEs in Nigeria?
- What are the various ways the COVID-19 lockdown significantly affected SMEs in Nigeria?
- What are the coping/survival strategies adopted by SMEs during the lockdown?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be very useful to SME owners in Nigeria, as it will educate them on the possible strategies to adopt during any case of lockdown as a result of a pandemic or government order. Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to the coping strategies of small-scale businesses in the post-lockdown era.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study focuses on the coping strategies of small-scale businesses in the post-lockdown era. Additionally, the study will further ascertain the extent to which the COVID-19 lockdown affected SMEs in Nigeria, identify the various ways the lockdown significantly affected SMEs in Nigeria, and investigate the coping/survival strategies adopted by SMEs during the lockdown. Hence, the study will be carried out in Warri South Local Government of Delta State, where the respondents will be obtained.
1.7. Limitations of the Study
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.
In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.
More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other regions, state and local governments, as well as other countries in the world.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
Small and medium enterprises.
An acute respiratory illness in humans caused by a coronavirus, capable of producing severe symptoms and in some cases death, especially in older people and those with underlying health conditions. It was originally identified in China in 2019 and became pandemic in 2020.
The restriction of peoples movement as a preventive measure against the pandemic.
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