African SMEs’ Performance and Behaviors during COVID-19

pronounced in African countries and for the SMEs in particular. Hence, in our study we attempt to track this challenge for participating SMEs. ● Poor Management: This arises from the fact that most African SMEs operators or their managers lack managerial expertise, mainly arising from the shortage of professional training and experience. The management style is based primarily on trial and error and driven by performance and short-term gains. This problem is even more acute at the top levels of African SMEs. ● Negative Perception: Another challenge facing SMEs is the negative perception potential customers are predisposed with. The businesses are perceived to be unable to provide required quality products and services compared to larger organizations. African SMEs are typically competing with larger companies in the marketplace maintaining well-known names, brands and reputation. Hence, these SMEs have to have strong competitive advantages and strategies allowing them to stand the pressure from existing competitions and to win loyal customers. ● Competency and Capability: This denotes business owner and managers’ knowledge, skills and experience. Unfortunately, numerous studies have recognized low human resources capabilities and competencies as major challenges facing SMEs in Africa. ● Access to Reliable Information: Another challenge faced by SMEs in Africa is lack of adequate business information from both governments and service providers. The problem arises from poor information environment resulting from underdeveloped technological and communication infrastructures and inadequate business support systems ● Government Support: The role of the government in facilitating and supporting SMEs remains critical worldwide. A government that does not support SMEs does not only hurt the sector but experiences negative growth in its economic development. The environment created by the government in terms of wages framework, taxation, licensing, opportunities, technological support and infrastructure pave the road to success or failure for the SMEs. Depending on the regulatory frameworks put in place by the government, can easily crush or promote small business economy ● Corruption: Due to corruption and red tape, many SMEs fnd it more proftable to stay in the informal sector, and by that avoiding heavy taxation and other burdensome regulations. However, growth opportunities in the informal sector are seriously hampered by reduced access to formal credit, lack of possible expansion out of local markets, etc.

We then supplemented these literature’s identifed challenges with challenges we identifed from texts/articles published during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting some recent surfacing and/or introduced SME challenges that are closely related to the pandemic.

We hereby describe the nature of these challenges

● Human Resources related issues: It was reported that many companies resorted to laying of some of its personnel in reaction to economic uncertainty. How did these phenomena materialize? Were the layofs a common trend among African SMEs as well? Some African SMEs resorted to temporary layofs as a personnel reduction strategy? Whom did these job cuts afect the most? In particular, we look closely at the impact it had on women and minorities.When companies It was also reported that many companies were managing personnel diferently with teleworking setting itself as a common working practice. How did this teleworking get organized and controlled? Also, we are interested in learning how the diferent African SMEs manage their employee leaves? And we track the productivity of those SMEs pre-post the health crisis.


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