Innovation required amidst COVID-19 challenges

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Local business man and President of Free State Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Thabo Pitse.

With the recent announcement regarding the COVID-19 virus from the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa has been in a frenzy, with many businesses having to relook the way they conduct business, while ensuring the safety of their employees and customers.

Many have agreed that the economy and businesses will be hit hard by the effects of the virus, but many have also taken up the challenge to be more creative. Local business man and President of Free State Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Thabo Pitse, said that for him the virus has had a negative effect, although he still remains optimistic.

“It has affected me negatively as I’m here in the USA studying. I’ve put up this huge investment and now in the middle of my studies I need to stop, go back home and come back when things are better. So you can just imagine the logistics that have to go with that. Luckily the institution where I am studying is understanding about the current situation. It has, however, really messed up my plans and now I need to rewire my studies, business and life in general,” said Pitse.

He added that his clients are also going through uncertain times where everything is having to change. “As leaders of business this is where we have to stand up and lead our staff. Everyone has had a shift in their mindset and we have to keep them motivated, and most importantly, keep them informed. For example, here in the US, offices have become no-touching areas, so the staff may not touch each other, which sort of affects the culture of the business and the mental health of employees. This will eventually affect the bottom line of the business. But we have to take up the challenge and make sure we keep the momentum growing.”

He added that having travelled recently to the United States, airports have a different vibe. “As a globe trotter travelling regularly, this is the worst thing that could have happened. Flights are half empty and that shows that the aviation industry has been affected badly. For the passengers it’s good, as too many people on a flight is not a good thing right now. People are also more paranoid at the airports; you can’t cough or sneeze, people don’t want to stand next to people from certain races because of stigma attached to them, people are walking around with masks. It’s a rude awakening; you can see that there is something terrible happening in the world,” he concluded.

Seithati Semenokane

seithati@centralmediagroup.co.za