The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing a global health emergency, and a global economic slowdown. Trade, investment, growth, and employment are all being affected by the ongoing crisis.
The combination of businesses being required to temporarily shut down and people staying home has caused small local businesses to suffer. Some of this will be temporary, but some business owners will be forced to shut down for good.
Amman-based political economist Laith Aljouni says “with this crisis coming, […] many small businesses might shut down.” Therefore, the fear in the private sector and, particularly, among small to medium businesses is substantial.
While the coronavirus measures which have been introduced to prevent its spread including flight bans and strict curfews, have proven to be effective, they are leaving many in the private sector scrambling to assess the ongoing damage.
Some of the measures introduced by the Jordanian government to confront the crisis, include a $775m economic injection from the Central Bank of Jordan.
While this is not necessarily a direct injection, it acts as a method to reduce the mandatory amount of cash reserves that banks will have to deposit with the central bank from 7 to 5 percent. 'This will encourage the banking sector to reduce the costs it passes on to its clients - these include bank loan(s) and credit payments.'
Another measure introduced by the Jordanian government includes the deferral of sales tax from all local businesses.
'The Jordanian government has made use of all its available tools to help the private sector to survive this crisis. They are doing what they can in terms of financial relief and other initiatives; however, ultimately it’s going to be up to us, the local communities and customers, to support our local small-medium businesses.'
Local businesses are essential for our economy. They bring growth and innovation to our communities. They provide employment and create entrepreneurship opportunities and support the local economies, communities and neighbourhoods.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is offering the following tips to help your local businesses:
Buy a gift card for later. Look on the company’s website and social media accounts for details.
Some businesses may be fulfilling orders via their social media accounts.
Skip the refund (where necessary) & consider taking a credit for the future instead.
Commit to future work or project when the business reopens. Same applies to freelancers - book your next shoot, project with them!
Shop (local) online. Many local shops and vendors run online shops. Look for them on social media accounts or check their website
Look for virtual classes.
Get takeout or delivery: many restaurants and breweries are offering this service and some with a discount.
If you can’t afford to pay in advance or your own wallet is under strain, the BBB says there are free ways to support local businesses.
Write an online review of your favourite business.
The BBB says five star reviews help companies rank well in search engines.
Consider liking and sharing a business on social media so they can gain more positive exposure.
Another way to continue supporting small businesses through this pandemic, is the Jordanian donation fund which has been set up by the government on eFAWATEERcom.
For those unaware of eFAWATEERcom - it is an electronic service for paying bills that is under the supervision of the Central Bank of Jordan and operated by MadfooatCom for Electronic Payments.
To donate, using the eFAWATEERcom service - use the following link: https://efawateercom.jo/Portal/Home
If you are a small-medium businesses and in need of advice:
The International Trade Centre is the only international organization fully dedicated to supporting the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). It is also closely following how the pandemic is affecting MSMEs with a particular focus on those small businesses in developing countries.
They are currently providing insights and guidance to small businesses searching for ways to cope with the operational stress generated by COVID-19. To access the information, please visit http://www.intracen.org/covid19/
Fashion Trust Arabia launched a new fund called 'Stand With Creatives.' It is fund dedicated to help and support MENA-based designers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Follow Fashion Trust Arabia on Instagram and stay tuned for their announcement regarding applications and eligibility details. To access the information, please visit https://fashiontrustarabia.com/page/stand-with-creatives
Take a deep breath. We’re all in this together. 'By supporting young creatives, employment opportunities, a flourishing supply chain, a community of freelancers and creative collaborations is possible, which leads to more businesses and healthy competition in the marketplace of ideas. Only in acting now, as a community, can we stand to see brighter days ahead. All of this can be done with your help.' - FTA.