Coping with COVID-19: Crisis and Opportunities

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 8.04.37 PMThe impact of the COVID-19 can be measured of its severity with number of affected person in the country. As of March 29,2020, there is a total of 1,418 confirmed cases, with 418 recovered and 71 deaths.  Majority of  confirmed cases are in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. COVID-19 is not as deadly as Ebola, which had a mortality rate of 60%, or SARS and MERS at 30%. But if the risk of death is lower, transmission is much higher.

Staying in business is the biggest challenge brought by the coronavirus. However, as Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”.

There is a need to explore the economy, business, real estate sector and draw-up a plan to confront the crisis and explore opportunities not only to withstand but to emerge stronger. Businesses that are well-prepared will always recover more quickly.

Pandemic in History

Pandemic is not new in the country. Looking back in history, our country survived several  pandemic already. The nearest comparable pandemic to coronavirus that  impacted the country occurred in 1918-1919, with the Spanish Influenza or locally known as trancazo. It was also the pandemic that infected more than 500,000 of the global population. In the Philippines, the total number of deaths was estimated at 70,513, with the group suffered most were those between 10-29 years in age. This epidemic occurred in waves, beginning in June and the second, which is more severe one begun in October 1918.

Another outbreak , SARS, which has a worldwide impact last for five months, from March to July 2003. The country recorded 14 cases and 2 deaths, the lowest count in 30 countries affected by the disease. This can be attributed to the established guidelines or infrastructure system of the government, and also the characteristics of the virus itself.

On coronavirus, lockdown were implemented in Wuhan, China to contain the spread of the virus. However, it enables the businesses to be innovative and cope up with the situation, in its two-month lockdown. Businesses engage in providing basic essentials were allowed to continue. Digital ordering of food supplies to estate arrangements were encouraged. The implementation of QR Code system in detecting person with infection, provision of supplies and others.

The experiences we can learn from Wuhan and from our own gives us a light of hope on our quest to survive and end coronavirus.

Economic impact

The economic impact is inevitable. Luzon accounts for the 73% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), while Visayas and Mindanao have 13% and 15% respectively. The National Economic Development Authority projected already at 0.3 reduction of the GDP if the virus lingers until June, and will further increase to 0.7& if it will last until December.

Among the sectors in the economy that were hit the hardest were services, tourism, trade, and remittances. Real estate being in the service sector is among them.

Based on the estimate, tourism industry alone could lose P22.7 billion in revenues per month due to the corona virus outbreak. The industries such as the export processing zones will be vulnerable to the disruptions in global supply chains after the closure of airports, ports, and factories within the country and abroad. Real estate, which has a gross value added of 2.3 Billion, as of January 2020,  has greatly impacted.

Agriculture sector stand-out in this time of crisis. The role it plays in food sufficiency and  provision of employment to the people cannot be denied. In 2018, it employs 10 Million people in the countryside.

The declaration of “Enhanced Community Quarantine” from Luzon and other provinces signals a new situation in real estate.  It will pave way to a new redistribution of real estate development and type of properties that will be offered in the future.

Opportunities in time of crisis

Under the guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine, only those providing basic necessities and activities will be allowed to operate.

Basic necessities include food and medicine production:

  1. Public markets
  2. Supermarkets
  3. Groceries
  4. Convenience stores
  5. Hospitals
  6. Medical clinics
  7. Pharmacies and drug stores
  8. Food preparation
  9. Delivery services
  10. Water-refilling stations
  11. Manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines
  12. Banks
  13. Money transfer services
  14. Power
  15. Energy
  16. Water
  17. Telecommunications supplies and facilities.

Business procession outsourcing and export-oriented will continue to operate provided that they will employ social distancing. Other businesses are allowed to operate provided their employees are working at home.

These businesses are opportunities that need to be explored. This crisis require people to think out of the box and be innovative to remain in business. Analyze current business strength and weaknesses, to enable to capture opportunities in the market. Adaptability and collaboration is the key.

Key driver to resilience

In coping with the social and commercial disruption, a key driver is turning out, the digital technology and agriculture. Groceries and food supplies can be purchased online and delivered to the home. In Wuhan, local residents organize themselves for home delivery of essential supplies while in self-quarantine. The combination of consumer digital maturity and digitally supported supply chains has enabled local residents to organize home delivery of essential supplies to people in quarantine.

There are companies that provide virtual trainings and online seminars to its people and learnings about real estate salesmanship skills, market analysis, business matching, and other useful skills to personal development such as leadership and speaker’s training.

Agriculture plays a great role in the sustenance of food supplies and stable prices in the market. Farming and fishing activities were permitted during the period of quarantine. The government also ensure  the continues movement and unhampered flow of farm products to the cities.

Uncertainty still dominates the situation. Nobody knows what next week or months could bring. Preparation and planning is the key to overcome. Businesses should conduct scenario planning, the best and worst case scenarios, and the capability of the business to cope. There should be short and long term plan on the financial, organisational and operational  capability. Access to financial assistance and relief should be demanded from different government agencies.

Filipino people had been proven to be resilient amid calamities and crisis. Covid-19 is a wakeup call for us which both need to accelerate the digital transformation of our economy — ahead of the next pandemic.

 

 

 

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