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Thank you COVID-19 for Community Positivity

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

These are, indeed, tough times for most business owners. While the disastrous effects of the situation are numerous, it remains imperative to highlight the favourable influence this crisis has had on the Small Business (SB) community in Mauritius.

The latter has witnessed a fantastic support flow since the lockdown. The best part is that instead of being competitors, SB owners seem to increase their visibility by supporting one another.

Community over Individualism

Social connections and community have acted as shockproof armours since the lockdown has started. The support level is unbelievable amongst SB owners; tips are shared, and recommendations are a significant part of their stories. Situations like these reveal a lot about us, which is why it has been surprisingly encouraging to see the SB community working collectively instead of focusing on their individual needs. While social distancing has prevented us from being physically present for one another, it has primarily contributed to breaking down barriers between the audience and small business owners and bringing entrepreneurs together. One entrepreneur doesn't have to buy from the other; it's not always the easiest thing to do, as most of them are struggling to run their own business during this crisis. In this case, support is shown in various ways and allows entrepreneurs to increase their visibility, thus creating a win-win situation for enterprises involved. Shout outs, tags, recommendations, or reviews are now the easiest ways to show support in the SB local community. The best part about this type of support is that it is entirely free and requires only a few seconds!

Prioritising learning overproducing.

The pandemic has allowed businesses to redefine themselves by adopting a proactive approach. Productivity has been on the rise, and entrepreneurs have numerous ways to shield their companies from potential impacts. It has been a relatively favourable time for connecting with people and allowing them to discover the faces and stories behind local brands despite social distancing measures. As usual, social media acted as the middleman between the target audience and entrepreneurs.

Storytelling, which often focused on the whole process of production, has enabled small businesses to connect with their community frequently.

Many have also committed themselves to multitasking, which has been a great alternative to extra costs.

While before, visuals didn't matter that much to entrepreneurs, there has been a noticeable change in this aspect. Whether it is basic photography skills, content creation or design, Mauritians entrepreneurs have ensured that their Instagram pages remain unique while still supporting other similar ventures. A considerable amount of emphasis has been placed on the benefits of choosing local products over chain store products.

What about consumers?

Now is the time for consumers to offer constructive criticism to SB owners. Remember not to lash out at entrepreneurs in case you're not satisfied with their products or services.

As consumers, who are used to buying from chain stores, we frequently forget how challenging it is to be an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur's remuneration is not one to which he is entitled monthly but one that solely depends on his input, your support, your reviews and purchases. However, during a pandemic or at least the start of it, it is hard for most small businesses (this is principally applicable to artisans, crafters, artists, small manufacturers etc.) to acquire any revenue, therefore as consumers, we should remember to be sensitive and talk to them instead of bashing their brands.

As the former owner of a small business myself, I understand how tough it is to run and make a small business survive. Unfortunately, time and again, people would rather criticise than offer a piece of advice. Bear in mind that a piece of advice or support of any kind is three times more useful than nonconstructive criticism.

Time for change

The crisis has made room for fundamental change; it is very likely that without this pandemic, it would have taken half a decade of campaigning to convince Mauritians to consider small businesses while making their purchases. With the shutting down of most malls and retail stores, people had to acknowledge other options, allowing them to realise how much potential exists in their community.

Now that life is slowly getting back to normal, it is crucial for small businesses' existing support to continue.

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