Entrepreneurs hit hard by Coronavirus – ways to stay afloat: Custodian of Entrepreneurship at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and Head of Africa for Centuro Global, Seraj Toefy, joins us on the line…

It is often said that the elderly and those with impaired immune systems are most at risk due to Covid-19, but small businesses are just as vulnerable, with many who are not going to survive a global economic shut down. According to The Small Business Association, the average cash safety net for small businesses is estimated to last only 27 days.

Toefy suggests the following key things that small business owners can do during this time:

Reduce Costs:

He says that small business has a civil duty to try and cut as few jobs as possible during this time, so cutting everything else needs to take priority before staff are affected.

Negotiating with banks and suppliers for payment holidays, rebates, interest cuts and any help they can give should be top priority.

Continue to operate:

If you can, set up staff at their homes with laptops and WIFI and use some of these tools that can assist with remote working:

  • Zoom, Google HangOuts or Skype to have staff and client meetings
  • Slack or Basecamp for instant messaging
  • Monday, Asana or Clickup for productivity and project management
  • Dropbox and GoogleDrive for file sharing
  • Remo and GoToWebinar for online events
  • Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for Online networking


Co-opetition is when you cooperate with your competition.  He says that now is not the time to try and beat one’s competition, but to reach out and see if one could share workloads, share knowledge and work together to try and survive this.  “Rising tides lift all ships, and never before have we needed ships to be lifted as much as now.”


As with all crises, increased communication reduces anxiety.  Toefy suggests that increasing communication with staff, suppliers and clients is paramount.


Small businesses often don’t have the time to strategise due to work load however the slow-down of the economy does not mean that one must slow down.  Toefy says that business owners should use this time to think of ways of how they will do things better when the shutdown is lifted.

“Being agile is not a strategy, it is an ability.  It is an ability that is best used within the framework of a strategy.  The Business Model Canvas is a good framework to ensure that all elements of your business are being looked at during this time. There will most likely be a distinctive difference between before Covid-19 and after covid-19.  Be prepared to be better, after.”

Read and study

As an entrepreneur, your single biggest asset is you.  Use this time to work on yourself.  Read books or study online.  There are several short courses that one could do while in isolation.

Strive don’t just survive

Quoting Rahm Emanuel who said, “Don’t waste a good crisis”, Toefy says that we are all thinking about ways to survive this crisis, but what if we implemented some of these tips and came out of isolation even stronger.  “Perseverance, tenacity, creativity, determination and passion are traits synonymous with entrepreneurs.  Now is the time to call on all of them and not just survive, but strive.”