SEATTLE, Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a worldwide economic downturn, the impact of which will continue for the foreseeable future. Indeed, border closures and lockdowns have already severely limited consumer traffic, forcing many businesses to attempt to make the switch to providing services remotely. However, amid the uncertain economic landscape, some are turning these challenges into new opportunities to make a difference globally. Here are five ways companies are using digital entrepreneurship in the age of COVID-19 to provide solutions for those in need.
Digital Entrepreneurship in the Age of COVID-19
- Entrepreneurs are meeting the needs of citizens by providing digital solutions to large-scale problems. For example, ZoomCar, a car service in India, is branching out into new avenues of business amid the pandemic. By collaborating with emergency essential services providers such as large food tech, health tech and government services, Zoomcar is now doing its part to fulfill essential services by digital request. This innovative solution will ensure that people across India have access to important supplies.
- The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IRR) is using e-finance to empower women. Having access to the digital economy is crucial to making sure small businesses do not fall through the cracks. Without digital financial services, for example, it is impossible for businesses to operate in countries like Rwanda where the government has discouraged the use of cash to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That is why the IRR is working to support female business owners in the developing world. By helping women in rural economies engage in digital marketing and trade, the IIRR is saving both lives and livelihoods.
- In China, business is increasingly moving online. That includes the country’s retail sector, which initially experienced a major disruption on account of the lockdown in Wuhan. This left many industry leaders suddenly staring down a previously unthinkable question: how do we keep Wuhan’s citizens fed during the quarantine? Of course, to answer that, China’s largest retail companies have turned to the power of technology. Thanks to the clever application of digital services on the part of companies like Alibaba, Wuhan’s citizens were quickly able to access food delivery, banking and education remotely. Thus, ensuring that an already tragic humanitarian crisis did not escalate further.
- In India, the e-pharmacy 1MG has partnered with local healthcare service providers to deliver digitally served healthcare. This is a timely and convenient model that will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Worldwide, many healthcare service providers are following suit and moving to digital platforms to prevent the spread of infection.
Digital entrepreneurship is contributing to Vietnam’s remarkably effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this is due to the widespread accessibility of digital resources in the country. For example, online retailer Saigon Co.Op already counted itself as the most popular retailer in the nation. Now, it and fellow retailers like Tiki have seen a remarkable surge in popularity. However, it is not just the private sector that is experiencing greater volumes of visitors amid the quarantine. Vietnam’s National Public Services Portal has seen a 154% increase in traffic from January to March. With more citizens able to conduct their business online, more can afford to stay home, saving lives in the process.
The modern world exists in a state of constant change. While the transition to the digital economy was already underway, COVID-19 has only served to further accelerate the process. Digital entrepreneurship in the age of COVID-19 is generating rapid innovation.
– Elise Ghitman