My business and I survived through Covid

“I want you on board. Are you joking? I thought to myself, said Elaine Zagey, chartered accountant and financial director at ASE, a higher education institution.

“Boy oh boy were we dropped with a bomb with the president address. I thought no opportunities were going to come.”

As the pandemic this year spun the entire globe into a heavy storm, negativity was in the air consuming and spinning us into a whirlwind of problems. ORT Jet which is known for supporting small businesses was naturally pulled in, picking up the pieces with the most hard-hit, SMEs.

They were eager to find out the positive spin on this, adding the “Business Success Story” webinar to their training calendar, which was hosted on the 12th of November. Businesses were invited to share how they weathered the storm.

“I was head-hunted by a company looking for a chartered accountant” said Zagey

“With all these online mechanisms, for a person coming into a new position seemed unlikely that a company would take this risk” Here I was to be hired not knowing anyone and having to manage a team. Here I was having to face online platforms which I tend to shy away from, I had no choice but to forge forward.”

“I am the personal assistant on wheels” New entrepreneur on the horizon, Bradley Davis, Founder of Ready Set Delivered, shared his journey.

“I love helping people so I thought collections and deliveries, I knew there was a gap because staff at stores weren’t trained for the amount of orders coming in at the time.” said Davis

“I had R300 to my name to start the business, so I put R150 in my car and started doing deliveries”

“I hired a lady to help me create a Facebook page, got a travel certificate to use the roads and now I have a fully registered business. I didn’t know this business would take off the way it did, I can’t believe I already have a bookkeeper.”

Jacqui Martheze, founder of JM Designs distributes handmade painted table clothes, inspired us to dig into our roots. The business was ignited from her artistic talent embedded in her since a young age.

“Everybody lost something during Covid, I had a consulting business for many years. The economy has been feeling a pinch for such a long time said Martheze.”

“Automatically you have to look elsewhere and do a Swot analysis. I looked inwards, what am I good at? I’ve always been creative. So it thought about how I am going to monetise my time and then thought painted table clothes.” I also engaged with the market and trends in the world.” she added.

As we know, restaurants were one of the most hard-hit and had to go into immediate shutdown since the get-go.

Restauranteurs, Larry and Annie Hodes brought their passion to the webinar and made it clear that their restaurant would not go down without a fight. The former known Voodoo Lily Café was uniquely transformed into an artisanal Grocery Store, selling local produce, and renamed The Gourmet Grocer.

“We thought why don’t we go onto FB and Whatsapp and find out who has artisanal talent?” said Larry. “The response was incredible, 24 hours later was the birth of the Gourmet Grocer.”

“50 staff, zero income at the time. We literally had to make a plan, all of our staff are back at work and now a lot of suppliers are able to make a living.”’ said Annie

The ability to improvise was not only necessary but was the only way out, businesses certainly pocketed lessons to share and inspire others.

“Covid has taught me that life is beyond my control” said Zagey. “Not only did I find a position in the midst of Covid, I exceled, built relationships within the company and am in the process of implementing various systems.”

“I’ve even learnt to eat healthier at the age of 42” said Davis. “I usually hate shopping and now I’m doing it for a living which my wife loves”

“I’ve even now got clients in America, UK and Australia who I’m doing shopping for. I also sit with the people I shop for and chat with them. It’s so nice for them to see a person. The people I’ve met are incredible and I love hearing all their stories.”

“I’ve learnt that it’s very important to keep moving forward and staying positive” said Martheze

“My business is growing from strength to strength. Slowly I’m starting to introduce new products into my business.”

“I’m a restaurateur but retail was completely new to us and we had to learn a new game” said Larry. “It’s about partnerships, what made me feel better that there were other people in similar positions.”

“When a crisis hits, we get stuck in the negative but then we are then missing out on opportunities” he said

It’s about how we chose to see the world, this was a key perspective for us” said Annie

“I don’t believe what we did was unique, anyone can do it.”