Learn how SME owner Rajab Mukasa implemented business continuity strategies to remain afloat during Covid-19 lockdowns

Rajab Mukasa, Director of Pique Nique Links Limited, shared with the Covid-19 Business Information Hub how his company managed disruptions caused by lockdowns and plans for business recovery. Pique Nique Links Limited is located at Lakeside crescent in Luzira and currently employs five staff. The company is engaged in bid management, organizing corporate events, and supplying general merchandise to enterprises.

What happened to your business during the first lockdown?

During the first lockdown in March 2020, we were unfortunate because our business came to a standstill. We didn’t expect the lockdown, so we had spent all our money to deliver on client orders but did not have cash flow from client payments. As a result, we closed for the whole length of the lockdown, and our staff had to find their means of survival. Upon easing the lockdown, customers began paying for the supplies we had made, at which point we re-opened business.

After re-opening, the company came up with a plan to only do partial deliveries to clients and agree on a short-term credit period. It was challenging to negotiate with the big corporations on these terms, but they eventually agreed. The plan enabled the business to build a cash reserve to continue operations during critical times, which prepared us for the second lockdown.

 

How did you manage to continue operating during the second lockdown?

During the second lockdown, we were better prepared. We learned that communication needed to be a key part of our business continuity strategy, so we actively engaged our clients and suppliers. We first informed our customers that we could not supply their orders because it was nearly impossible to obtain goods since suppliers’ businesses were closed. Customers understood the situation, and we also kept communicating regularly to alert them when we received some items available for supply. Given that we traditionally pay suppliers in cash, it was also critical to discuss alternative payment options with them. We used mobile money and bank accounts through agent banking, the new methods that allowed us to order by phone and pay remotely.

Another contingency plan that we put in place was to source jobs and consultancy work for our company directors, which funded the company’s operations despite reduced cash flow. This was important to help the company’s operations to stay afloat.

 

What other business continuity strategies are you implementing to survive any further disruptions?

First, we want to ensure that we have a cash reserve in our bank account at all times to be used only to finance critical activities during tough times. We hope this can shield the company against liquidity challenges resulting from delayed customer payments.

We are also thinking about diversifying into other ventures to widen our business model and obtain alternative income. In the past, events management was our primary source of income; given the current circumstances, other sources of income such as the supply of goods will be a priority.

The pandemic disruptions have been a learning experience for the business. The critical lesson here is about building a sustainable value relationship between clients and suppliers. Relationships require transparency and two-way communication where you share openly about the challenges and develop solutions to propel the relationship ahead.