The unexpected COVID-19 disruptions to our economy, while difficult to manoeuvre for many persons, can be used to the advantage of the entrepreneurially-minded. Unfortunately, the persons who will suffer the greatest hardship during this time are those that already have the least and are already leading lives of impoverishment and want. The government has sought to alleviate the struggles of poor people, through their recently announced CARE initiative which will see many persons who have been laid off from work and many small business owners getting grants to help to pilot them through the period. However, this will not be able to prevent the impending economic collapse due to the increasingly negative growth of the economy.
Those who are at the greatest risk of hunger, illness and violence at this time are those that lack basic resources and are the ones who will need to be most innovative in getting through these trying times. Persons will have to start looking creatively into ways they can provide critical services and products that others will need, now more than ever. Not only this, but the traditional jobs will offer less stability in a time when economic movement is unpredictable. For those who have been laid off, the best line of action is not necessarily to double up on job-hunting efforts but to think innovatively towards becoming a provider of some critical good or service during these uncertain times.
Unfortunately, the Jamaican agricultural sector continues to lose out due to our farmers losing crops because of the COVID-19 spread. What has been facilitating the continuation of this problem is the missing link between these farmers and the consumer. Fortunately a few business-minded persons have sought to create packages of various types of produce for retail to the ordinary consumer. Others have sought to do home deliveries for persons who are elderly or for other reasons cannot leave their homes. Nonetheless, the void has not quite been filled. Many consumers are still trying hard to find ways of accessing farm produce. How many persons who have lost income due to COVID-19 will seek to fill the gap within our farming industry?
What about our growing need for face masks? With more persons wanting face masks for outdoor use, who will fill the demand? Already a few quick-thinking entrepreneurs have found a way to tap into the face-mask industry. Not all face masks are the same but we all know even the least effective face mask is better than none at all. Furthermore, the fashion conscious are starting to express interest in face masks of the most flamboyant kinds. Now with the government strongly encouraging the use of face masks in public spaces there will be an increased demand for face masks and all that is really needed to help in filling the demand is a sewing machine and almost any fabric of choice.
Changing times present countless opportunities for innovation. As some would say, “Never waste a good crisis”. It is time for ordinary Jamaicans to actively seek ways in which they can contribute solutions for the many problems that have arisen from the COVID-19 spread. In order to survive the economic hardships of this pandemic, many will have to abandon the traditions of money making and look beyond the four walls of convention.