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Back to basics

As the current recession looms on, it has the effect of driving fear and doubt in the hearts and minds of both employers and employees. Whilst many employees are uncertain of their job security, employers on the other hand are concerned of the viability of their enterprises. The challenge that many employers face is that of maintaining and sustaining their operations, as they struggle to contain rising overheads against declining profits, due to the contraction in the market.

The predicament that many employers now face is quite understandable. The pressure imposed on them must be quite immense, as they meet the challenge of their investment(s) being jeopardised. Looking at the picture from the employee’s standpoint, it must be an awful feeling not knowing whether you will remain employed at the end of each work week.

Employees who have invested much time and energies in the building of a business, must feel hard done when a business suddenly closes its doors and leaves them to struggle on the small payouts that may be offered. Thereafter they are forced to survive on unemployment benefit, which is time bound.

This is where frustration and despair sets in. This downturn is not good for the society. One thing that becomes blatantly obvious is that it heightens the gap between the rich and the poor. The ugly feature which presents itself lies in the fact that those who could afford the basic available social services, now tend to compete with the poor and improvised members of the society. The fact of the matter is that this is part of the reaction to the measures instituted by the government of the day, which are intended to cushion the impact of the recessionary times.

It is clear that no amount of belly-aching or complaining will help to change the existing situation. It warrants that at all levels, plans of actions are developed and implemented. For the workers, it means resorting to living within their means. It is times like these that are known to bring the best out of the individual. Those who have latent skills and talents should look for ways to put them to use.

There has been much talk about entrepreneurship and innovation, yet it would seem that the stimulus for this is lacking. This is the right time for persons to show their creativity and ingenuity. This is a great opportunity for small groups of persons to come together and launch a business venture that embraces a number of skills, competencies and talents. The attractiveness of any business idea which is presented at this time is very likely to attract investments from those who are looking for investment opportunities.

Very little is to be gained from developing a business idea that is retail driven. From all the available evidence, it would seem that retail businesses are under severe pressure during the current economic crisis and are collapsing at will. What is required is for persons with business ideas to look at entering the manufacturing and/or services sectors, where there is a demand for the products, goods and services; and where there is some reasonable assurance of viability and sustainability. There is nothing to be had from entering a saturated market where the emphasis is on selling clothing, hair, shoes and the like.

It is advisable that those who have land should start growing selected cash crops. Since business requires planning, it is advisable that some feasibility research of the best crops to be grown, based on market demand should be first completed. Going back to basics is what is required at this time, and there no going wrong if the start is made with agriculture. Out of our high food production, should come the stimulus for investment in the agro manufacturing sector. That should bring a return to jobs, as this would certainly add some diversity to the economy.

*Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.

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