The face of business

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In less than a week we have seen businesses, small and large, mobilise to adjust to the Covid-19 emergency. Some companies have shifted operations away from their corporate bases to quickly set up remote working capabilities without disrupting the customer experience; others have completely reworked their business models to cater for new consumption patterns.

Other companies, however, have sadly ground to a halt and risk dying with their boots on. And with them, thousands of families will suffer utter devastation unless bold decisions are made in time.

The outbreak of Covid-19 is a crushing health emergency that is hitting communities in the most painful of ways. On top of that, the spread is leaving a trail of misery among business and industry. Paradoxically, the serious and far-reaching effects of coronavirus on the economic system lay bare the importance of the commercial sector to the stability and welfare that we so easily take for granted.

It shows that businesses are not faceless, obscure machines but dynamic organisations made of people and their families. The business community is a major underwriter of social order and wellbeing.

Along with government, institutions, and the media, companies are the main stakeholders that uphold contemporary civilisation and allow individuals to improve their lives.

While many are right to call out greed and profiteering by unscrupulous people in business when they take place, it is times like this that help us appreciate the efforts of entrepreneurs and the shared benefits made possible by the accomplishments of audacious dreamers and determined risk-takers.

Malta’s thriving economy over the past decade has been silently foregrounded by its intrepid business community: women, men and whole families who found ways to successfully navigate an exposed market and boost its performance comprehensively.

We often say that the workforce in Malta is enterprising and inventive and the collective response to the Covid-19 situation was indeed nothing short of remarkable. But when a customer base is literally wiped out within a matter of days, no rate of agility or resilience will ever be enough to save a company from calamity.

At this point, it is all hands on deck and every stakeholder in the country must do its part to stop the health threat from spiralling unfairly into an economic threat.

In more ways than one, the business community is a reflection of a nation’s success. Allowing companies to be swallowed up by the coronavirus crisis would be a shameful and inadmissible failure.

Jesmond Saliba

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