Strategies to Mitigate COVID-19's Impact on Indian SMEs

Strategies to Mitigate COVID-19's Impact on Indian SMEs

Neeta Baporikar, Mukund Deshpande
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.2021070101
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SMEs are small firms with small budgets, workforces, and scales of operations compared to large enterprises, and their risk-bearing ability is low. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 paralyzed these SMEs creating severe financial crises and threats to survival. Small firms already face a variety of challenges in their normal course of business while the spread of the virus has suddenly turned down the situation into an emergency for them. COVID-19 stalled the movement of the employees owing to the evolution of severe public health issues, and many SMEs shut down due to fear of the pandemic. Due to this scenario, all SME owners are keen to know more about the measures and strategies that could be implemented to mitigate the negative impact. Hence, adopting an exploratory approach with systematic literature review, this paper deliberates on how these issues can be addressed through a robust and well-drawn policy and discusses the mitigation strategies that will aid in softening the blow due to this pandemic and also helps in the resurgence of SMEs at a faster rate.
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Coronavirus disease referred to as COVID-19 is a health hazard of the year 2019 that emerged originally in China and then spread all over the globe either through close social contact of citizens individually or in a group. Symptoms of cold, cough temperature, and severe acute respiratory syndrome have been reported by the patients. Roy & Ors (2020) have opined that COVID-19 has developed into a pandemic, with small chains of transmission in many countries and large chains resulting in an extensive spread in a few countries, such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan. No vaccine has been developed and available even after six months of emergence. If such conditions are ignored, the manpower engaged in SMEs would go jobless leading to a chaotic situation and lead to a sudden downfall of the economy of a firm (Baporikar, 2021). Although remote working has been recommended as an important primary solution, manufacturing firms are unable to run their operations without manpower owing to their nature of processes engaged. Manpower health and its movement are the major issues that came upon the surface to address. Formulation of the mitigating strategies requires knowledge of resources, mitigating approaches/processes/alternatives/options to verify if the outcome satisfies the objective of strategy that sustains for a long time

COVID-19, being a virus, has a treacherous, infectious character in attacking human beings. In short, there are human health hazards caused by this virus needing immediate attention and remedial measures. Roy & Ors (2020) stated that first among the important unknowns about COVID-19 is the case fatality rate (CFR), which requires information on the denominator that defines the number infected. The second unknown is whether infectiousness starts before the onset of symptoms. The incubation period for COVID-19 is about 5–6 days. Further, pandemics always activate disastrous socio-economic and political crises in tainted countries (Chakravarty, 2020). COVID-19, apart from becoming the greatest menace to global public health of the century, is being considered as a pointer of imbalance and constraint for social advancement.  Ibid (2020) have stated that the impacts of COVID-19 in daily life are extensive and lead to cascading consequences and these can be divided into various categories. Furthermore, various challenges emerge in the healthcare sector like diagnosis, quarantine, and treatment of suspected or confirmed cases. Other issues include a high burden on the functioning of the existing medical system. Patients with other ailments and health problems severely face carelessness by medical staff. Further problems include overload on doctors and other healthcare professionals, who are at very high risk. Excessive loading of medical shops; requirement for high protection; Disruption of the medical supply chain are additional challenges.

SMEs are small firms engaging with less manpower and multiple such SMEs collectively generate huge direct self-employment for their owners and the unemployed youth and citizens. So also they create large indirect engagement for material suppliers, service providers, and trading businessmen and people (Baporikar, 2020). These SMEs engage manpower, machinery, materials, and money to sell materials, products, or services. The virus has exhibited vicious characteristic that attacks human beings and SMEs are severely affected creating awful situations. In short, no manpower, no production, and no business situation are emerging. Researchers opine that economic challenges led to slowing the activity of manufacturing of essential goods; disrupting the supply chain of products; losses in national and international business; stagnation of cash flows in the market; as well as significant slow-down in the revenue growth and thereby reduce the competitiveness of SMEs (Baporikar, 2019).

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