The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an economic downturn that has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The disease has caused severe economic challenges around the world by affecting business operations and disrupting supply chains.
Analysts believe it will take time for things to get back to normal.
It is feared that some companies will go bust.
The country has had to grapple with the fallout from the coronavirus at a time when it was already facing significant headwinds from limited access to foreign currency, unemployment, poor utilities supply and high inflation.
As of May this year, the annual rate of inflation was 785,6 percent.
The fundamental question for the economy is: how do businesses survive in a harsh and volatile economy, where uncertainty is the order of the day?
How do they plan in an unpredictable environment where planning is literally difficult?
The challenge that lies ahead is not for the faint-hearted.
Yet there are still some businesses that flourish under such circumstances.
There are still expectations to be met despite the difficult operating environment.
For instance, employees want bigger remuneration and packages to cushion themselves, shareholders expect maximum returns, suppliers want favourable terms while customers want to be treated as kings.
In his book “Succeeding In Turbulent Times”, Dr Andrew Nyambayo unlocks some of the secrets behind companies that have made it during periods of economic volatility.
It is in such periods, he reckons, that management should craft and implement strategies that keep businesses afloat.
According to Dr Nyambayo, the key to survive in turbulent times is to learn, innovate, initiate and adapt to change.
The one with a good plan that he or she executes well is likely to win.
Organisations that win during unstable times are those that are fast, quick and dexterous, focusing not only on survival and maintenance of existing products and markets, but on the future.
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firms such as Delta, Seed Co, Econet, Innscor, FBC and Dairibord are among the examples drawn to show that it is not all doom and gloom during economic turbulence.
Econet was not a pioneer in mobile money when it launched EcoCash, but today the platform now accounts for over 90 percent of the market share and value of mobile money transactions.
Today, Zimbabweans cannot talk of plastic money without mentioning mobile money — EcoCash in particular.
As cash shortages continued to affect the transacting public, more individuals turned to mobile money platforms, which have been crucial in enhancing financial inclusion.
In every situation, good or bad, it is essential for organisations to scan the environment to know what’s happening, gather as much information from employees, suppliers, business associates, customers and competitors.
This helps to foresee danger and take defensive measures on time.
Some big companies lost it for failing to analyse market trends and adapt to changes.
Dr Nyambayo says competitive companies are first class in analysing every activity, from raw materials procurement, manufacturing, packaging and delivery of the product, as well as after-sales support.
But after implementing those strategies and making profits, organisations also need a concrete plan on what to do with that money in an inflationary environment.
In other words, they need to invest and take the money back to the shareholders, which is a mark of good stewardship.
Innscor was the darling of investors in the 2007 hyperinflation era, leading from the front through passing several interim cash dividends in order to cushion the shareholders from hyperinflation, unlike other firms that would pay cash dividends two or three months after releasing results.
A unique product offering is also a plus for any organisation.
A product that can’t be easily replicated, for instance the Coca-Cola Company’s carbonated beverage, as well as its superior marketing competencies puts it ahead of competition.
Success is also linked to exceptional customer experience.
During turbulent times, customers are price sensitive — they try new products as the market can be awash with alternatives.
It becomes apparent that high achievers offer exceptional customer service to customers.
How a firm utilises its unique resources effectively also plays a key role in its success story.
In the education sector, Dr Nyambayo draws examples of success stories of St Faith School in Rusape, the Zimbabwe Republic Police School, as well as Marist Brothers for producing exceptional results due to, among other factors, effective resource management. The book does not only highlight the success stories but also shows what not to do in business.
Nokia revolutionised mobile phones the world over, and it was impossible to imagine a world without it.
But the firm lost market share after management refused to invest in a superior software to complete with the iPhone operating system.
In a nutshell, “Succeeding in Turbulent Times” is designed as a manual for success.
Former Econet chairman Professor Norman Nyazema said; “Andrew is addressing social systems but putting on the lens of business and sharing examples of how companies could succeed in turbulent times. The idea of getting into business is to raise the standard of living of people, while money may enter your pocket.”
Imara Edwards Securities managing director Thedias Kasaira concurred adding; “This book is a real burner that can inspire business leaders and managers alike.
“Practical examples have been outlined which can make a difference between success and failure.”
Businessman and motivational speaker Mr Milton Kamwendo , summed it up as; “This is a book to read and keep as a reference guide.”