The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent lockdown and curfew have disrupted the daily lives of people and brought all businesses to a virtual standstill. Businesses in Sri Lanka are facing the detrimental consequences of this catastrophe as their very survival is now being threatened.
The lockdown and other measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in a noticeable drop in the output and income of our economy, which has directly impacted on general lifestyle.
As a result, some of the biggest blue-chip companies in the country, including apparel giants and hospitality chains, announced significant pay cuts after just two weeks into the lockdown, creating a negative mindset and overwhelming the general public with a sense of extreme uncertainty. Sri Lankan enterprises, including Small and Medium Enterprises, are challenged due to the dramatic transformation of the consumer and measures taken to combat the deadly virus. The enterprises adopt numerous strategies, which they presume will assist them to stay afloat. However, the ‘new normal’ envisages that the post pandemic period will be unique and considerably different to the way in which business transactions happened prior to COVID-19.
In spite of the challenges and trauma, businesses need to thrive in the long-run and require a significant amount of preparatory work to anticipate future consumer requirements, buying patterns, reconstruction of supply chains and adjustments to product portfolios. It is imperative that the businesses look beyond the looming uncertainty and restart, disregarding the past practices and strategies adopted. Every challenge needs to be converted into an opportunity for which constant surveillance and consumer insights are vital.
The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) as a national body for marketing, initiated ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ under the auspices of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the patronage of Namal Rajapaksa, to provide the impetus for Sri Lankan businesses to reinvigorate the economy. SLIM, the national body for marketing in Sri- Lanka, volunteers to support and shoulder the national responsibility of mentoring the local businesses and SMEs and take proactive measures to counter the coronavirus threat to become more resilient against future shocks and disruptions. The attempt and accomplishment through the new initiative is to reinvent and reengineer multiple segments of the economy to sustain their operations with the help of the ‘Restart Sri Lanka’.
People and businesses, including SMEs, are welcome to harness the support extended through ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ in discovering the ‘new normal’, and devising winning strategies to prosper. SLIM hopes and looks forward to connect the local businesses with the assistance of leading experts in the business and marketing fraternity to guide, mentor, network and empower the sectors to never give up and never let go. SLIM President Roshan Fernando stated: “Challenges are a part of our lives. Creating opportunities out of challenges is the way that you should look at life. Let’s all rise to face the challenges and find a new way to sustain a bright future in one spirit, as one nation and one country. ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ provides a platform to create a positive mindset, and to reinvent and reengineer SMEs and Sri Lankan businesses. Being the national body for marketing, SLIM always understood the current need of the country and addressed it through a national initiative with value-added programs by building a positive outlook among people, and this time under the direction of the Prime Minister’s Office to overcome the pandemic crisis. Let’s usher in a fresh innovative world with positivity and courage.”