Supporting small business resilience to big disasters and pandemics

Supporting small business resilience to big disasters and pandemics

13 Nov 2020

Bangkok, Thailand

Webinar participants discussing the impact of disasters and COVID-19 on small businesses.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) face a series of challenges during COVID-19 which include a lack of access to credit or fiscal stimulus packages. Lockdown measures and health restrictions also impact smaller business operations and livelihoods much greater when compared to larger enterprises.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) organized a webinar on ‘Business Quick Risk Estimation (QRE) Tool for MSMEs: Understanding Disaster Risk and Orientation to Tool’. The event familiarized small business owners across Asia and the Pacific region with the online QRE Tool to improve their identification of risks and build their own resilience to disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar was moderated by Mr. Timothy Wilcox, Program Management Officer (Asia and Pacific) at UNDRR while the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and Resilience Innovation Knowledge Academy (RIKA) facilitated.

Mr. Aslam Perwaiz, Deputy Executive Director of ADPC, speaking at the webinar.

Mr. Aslam Perwaiz, Deputy Executive Director of ADPC, gave his opening remarks and an overview of disaster impacts on the private sector. Mr. Perwaiz recalled how the 2011 flooding in Thailand changed the entire concept of interpreting economic loss.

‘Today after 9 years, more than 35% of SMEs could not go back to work,’ he said.

Mr. Perwaiz also examined the impacts of COVID-19 and current government initiatives for economy recovery. ‘It provides a compelling case for risk-informed approach to business continuity as a basis for supply chain resilience,’ he said.

Lastly, Mr. Perwaiz explained that ADPC, through its iPrepare Business Facility, responds to SME needs and raises awareness for disaster risk reduction. ‘We have identified that without business resilience, we cannot achieve overall sustainable growth,’ he said adding that business continuity planning helps companies resume operations under adverse conditions.

Dr. Ranit Chatterjee, Co-Founder of RIKA, introducing the QRE tool.

Dr. Ranit Chatterjee, Co-Founder of RIKA, provided an orientation and demonstration of the QRE tool. The scope of the tool includes supporting business owners in identifying possible internal and external risk from COVID-19, an estimation of individual business risk based on potential direct impact and the possible wider impact of COVID-19, and strengthening risk awareness and communication between business owners.

Other speakers included Ms. Aye Aye Win, Director General of Directorate of Industrial Supervision and Inspection, Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry in Myanmar, Mr. Vincent Rapisura, President of Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc. (SEDPI) Group of Social Enterprises in the Philippines and Brigadier Dr. BK Khanna, CEO of ARISE India Network and Senior Consultant for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

The QRE tool has been produced in partnership with UNDRR, RIKA, Profecia Links, and ADPC to support smaller businesses with developing a business continuity and recovery plan. This tool is part of a larger package developed by UNDRR, ADPC and partners to help small businesses build their resilience in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including the COVID-19 Small Business Continuity and Recovery Planning Toolkit.

Watch and download the full webinar here.