Most Cape Chamber members resilient in the face of Covid-19

Most Cape Town businesses have proved resilient during the Covid-19 lockdown, but the strain of lockdown made 12% contemplate leaving the country. Astonishingly, four per cent claimed to be thriving.

These are among the findings of the Chamber’s survey of its members carried out this past week.

Only six percent said they had contemplated applying for business rescue or voluntary liquidation. An overwhelming majority said that they never even thought of it.

Members provided more evidence of the struggle to stay in business. Those polled said they could not pay a third of their creditors this month, or would only be able to pay a portion of what they owed. Their difficulties affected 3,369 creditors.

The people who owe them money and have defaulted, amounted to 20 per cent of their debtors, more than 2 300 of them.

A high proportion of Chamber members (85%) said they were re-examining their business model for a post-Covid normal.

Some already operate completely online. Others have put their staff on half pay. One Chamber member was already working remotely when the Lockdown began. His costs were already at a bare minimum and he only employed essential staff. A few work from home.

What is astonishing is how the Covid-19 crisis has brought out the best in entrepreneurial thinking, demonstrating the innate innovative thinking in the private sector.

Some are now recycling anti-viral masks, installing water-filtration systems, developing an evolving tourism strategy for a post Covid world, rigorously cutting costs, tightening up expenditure, diversifying into other products, shifting to working from home, increasing their product range, and even actively looking to export markets.

Surviving has not been easy. Fully a fifth of those polled said the past 60 days of lockdown had been very stressful, and some of those found it extremely so.  

Some are concerned for the health of their staff and worry about how the new business model will work, particularly those in the travel business.

And then there are those whose comments on how the Government is handling matters border on the apoplectic.

Proof that everyone in the private sector has been very understanding of each other’s difficulties is that very few (3.5%) have had any legal claims against them during the lockdown.

However, many say their insurers are not paying claims for loss of revenue and some speak of a class action complaint.

Two thirds of those polled occupy rented premises, the balance own their own. Most say they will go back to their factories and offices once it is possible to do so. Those that have found new ways to stay in business will not.