Coronavirus is spreading like a wildfire across the world. It has suddenly become a global disaster of biblical proportions that forced governments to take significant protective action. Many countries have initiated lockdown while others have announced stringent social distancing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission in public areas. In a way, being affected by coronavirus can be considered worse than being affected by a trade war.
This global epidemic has triggered a change in work behavior and destroyed economic growth. Poor people are at the most disadvantage because they cannot work and they are not sure what to eat the next day.
Governments are not allowing people from going out of their homes and on top of that, densely populated developing countries are reluctant to give food door to door as a consequence of the lockdown due to shortage of financial resources. The education sector has also taken a hit and School lessons are delivered online which makes the effectiveness questionable.
Staying and working at home all the time will increase online activity. People need the internet to shop, work, seek entertainment, learn about what’s happening outside and many more. Therefore digital startups are growing especially those providing online services that do not need direct contact with their consumer.
In these frustrating times, the reality is, all kinds of businesses are being shut down. Then should entrepreneurs stop their pursuits? In every situation, there is always a trade-off.
As a matter of fact, in the mid of the corona epidemic, there are some products that have seen enormous growth in sales. Apparently e-commerce industry is taking a lot of advantages from social distancing and work from home policy that has been imposed by governments in every country.
In case of Indonesia, Hand sanitizer, vitamin pills, and masks have become gold and the price has been increasing since the first case of corona arrived in Indonesia. It pushed people to put their trust in online stores because top online stores such as Tokopedia, initiated blocking policy for sellers who set irrational prices during the corona outbreak, therefore the best place to find health products with the normal prices is online stores.
Vice President (VP) of Corporate Communications Tokopedia, Nuraini Razak on April 10, 2020 said that in March 2020, mask sales value increased 197 times compared to the previous months and it only took 42 minutes to see 72.000 units of hand sanitizer sold out to buyers all over Indonesia says
Furthermore, disinfectant, tissue, and air purifiers were other popular products that enjoyed high sales due to the pandemic. Cloth masks is a good alternative to medical mask that is now becoming more difficult to find because the top priority for the administration is to ensure its delivery to doctors and nurses who act as a soldier in the war against coronavirus. Health supplements are also in urgent need as health awareness among people has increased lately.
On the other side, products such as beef, ginger, and dates are in high demand in Indonesia. Ginger is a traditional food ingredient in Indonesia that people believe can boost immunity, therefore it is a good prevention strategy to Coronavirus, though it is not scientifically proven.
During March 2020, 100 tons of beef and 60 tons of Ginger were sold out in Tokopedia. Meanwhile, Fransisca Krisantia Nugraha, Senior Vice President of Trade Partnership in Blibli, another popular Indonesian online store stated that an increase in those product sales was also confirmed in their store including instant food because it can be stocked and the price is relatively cheap.
Their store also initiated a policy of purchase limit in order to give the opportunity to many more people who need to buy the products. For example, Blibli set a limit of a maximum of two products per buyer for food products such as rice, oil, and instant noodles.
The investment in E-commerce start-up becomes more promising as the impact of this coronavirus outbreak. As a well-regulated industry, e-commerce companies are playing a major role in price regulation in Indonesia because traditional sellers, for their own personal advantage and lack social empathy, are charging more for the same product.
The government is expected to boost the growth of this industry because digital innovation is capable to adapt to hard situations like these. E-commerce can act as the biggest contributor to Indonesian economy growth and development, as well as promoting fair buying behavior in society.
Climate tech Startup Bio-Logical raises $1m Seed round: Kenya’s Agricultural Sector to Get a Boost from Bio-Logicals Landmark Biochar Carbon Removal Facility
Climate tech company Bio-Logical has raised a $1m seed round to scale up its operations in Kenya, facilitating its mission to build climate resilient communities of smallholder farmers around the world.
Smallholder farmers are facing a dire outlook with faltering harvests, increasingly extreme weather and skyrocketing fertiliser prices becoming increasingly common due to climate change. Bio-Logical addresses this challenge through a circular economy, transforming waste into biochar, a super material that sequesters carbon for millenia and regenerates degraded soil. Their biochar is then incorporated into an organic fertiliser which is distributed to smallholder farmers in the region, regenerating land, increasing crop drought resistance and boosting yields by over 50%.
“Bio-Logical was founded on the belief that Smallholder farmers should not suffer at the hands of a climate crisis they have played no part in. At present, soil degradation and changing weather patterns due to climate change is directly threatening the livelihoods of 500 million smallholder farmers around the world.” Rory Buckworth, Co-Founder
Utilising its innovative technology, Bio-Logical’s first site will be the largest biochar production facility in Africa. It will transform over 30,000 tonnes of agricultural waste a year into biochar, sequestering 25,000 tonnes of CO2. This process will generate carbon credits, the revenue from which will be used to subsidise its resilience building fertiliser for smallholder farmers, boosting yields and reducing fertiliser costs.
“We believe carbon credits should do more than simply remove carbon from the atmosphere and instead should be used to build the resilience of climate vulnerable communities” Philip Hunter, Co-Founder
The funding round is led by the Steyn Group alongside Angel Investors Rob Konterman, Luke Calcott-Stevens and Jochem Wieringa. The round will go towards the development of Bio-Logical’s first Kenya site which will pave the way for its expansion throughout the region that will see the company scale to support 1 million smallholders and sequester 1 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030.
According to setscale, More than 50% of US Small Businesses are Unaware of Federal Government Contracts, Losing $84 Billion a Year in Valuable Deals
Setscale, a purchase order financing company, reports on small business financing, highlighting the lack of access to US government contracts
Setscale, the purchase order financing company, released today its first-ever report on US small business financing. The report surveyed US small business owners to better understand some of the financial barriers to small business ownership, including their awareness of federal government contracts for small businesses.
More than half (52%) of all surveyed small business owners revealed that they aren’t aware of the specific contracts the US federal government awards to small businesses each year, missing out on approximately $84 billion* per year.
Government contracts are well-valued and often serve as a gateway to a steady source of income and small business growth. More than 70% (71%) of surveyed US small businesses say that they’re aware of lucrative and reliable government contracts, but more than half (52%) say they don’t know what specific contracts are available to them. And over a quarter of US small businesses (29%) are completely unaware that the federal government awards contracts to small businesses.
This report highlights that the federal government is investing in small businesses in record-high amounts, but business owners are still struggling to fill open government purchase orders. Almost 70% (69%) of US small businesses struggle with cash flow and working capital, preventing them from meeting the demand of a government contract. Many businesses pursue lines of credit from a bank or financial institution to fulfill purchase orders, but these are costly and hard to obtain. Alternative finance like purchase order financing can help these businesses secure and fulfill valuable government contracts.
Moreover, US small business owners say that a lack of cash flow and working capital prevents them from securing government contracts. At 22%, a lack of cash flow or capital is the second most popular reason that prevents US small business owners from securing a government contract. The most popular reason they aren’t securing government contracts is due to a lack of time and resources (25%).
“Our small business financing report sheds light on an issue that more than half of surveyed business owners know all too well – that even though the US federal government is awarding a record number of contracts to our small businesses, they’re still struggling financially to fulfill open purchase orders, potentially losing out on more than $80 billion each fiscal year,” comments Daniel Fine, Founder and CEO of Setscale.
“Government contracts are fierce competition for US small business owners for a reason. They’re reliable, well-valued, and often lead to steady sources of income. However, due to a lack of knowledge of the specific government contract awarding process, business owners are unsure if they can fulfill the government’s open purchase orders without pursuing a line of credit from a bank or financial institution,” elaborates Fine. “With interest rates at an all-time high, it’s an incredibly bad time to be a borrower. PO financing allows a small business to quickly bid on a contract, finance the full transaction, and scale operations to meet the size of the order.”
*In Fiscal Year 2022, the US federal government awarded $162.9B in federal contracting opportunities to small businesses. 52% of surveyed US small business owners reported that they aren’t aware of the specific contracts the US federal government awards to small businesses * $162.9B = $84B in lost opportunities.
Setscale designed and executed research for this report in collaboration with Censuswide. 251 US small business owners in companies with less than 50 employees (aged 18+) were surveyed online in October 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
Setscale is a fintech startup solving the trade financing dilemma for small businesses. Small businesses frequently get purchase orders, but don’t have the money to fill them. Through its PO financing technology, Setscale finances the cost of those goods, allowing small businesses to focus on product and sales, enabling them to scale. Setscale is an ideal partner for SMBs, coming in where traditional financial institutions won’t, enabling SMB’s to finance their growth. Setscale funds supply. You meet demand.
Monsha'at leads delegation of Saudi startups at Web Summit 2023
As part of its work to showcase the growth of the Kingdom’s SME sector, Monsha’at, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, took part in Web Summit 2023: one of the world’s leading technology conferences.
Held from 13 to 16 November 2023 — in Lisbon, Portugal — the event provided Monsha’at the opportunity to spotlight Saudi Arabia’s most innovative SMEs. The authority led a delegation of Saudi start-ups, calling attention to their success and contributions to the national economy. Moreover, the event provided a platform for industry leaders, including policymakers, heads of state, and tech CEOs and founders, to address global challenges.
Sami Al Hussaini, Governor of Monsha’at, said: “2023 has been a landmark year for Monsha’at and the Saudi SME sector, with the number of start-ups in the Kingdom growing to over 1.2 million. While we have made a great deal of progress, we can achieve more. Launching innovative partnerships with businesses and entities around the world is essential. Events such as Web Summit 2023 enable us to do that, immersing some of our leading start-ups in an energized environment conducive to collaboration, innovation and growth.”
Saudi Arabia’s start-up ecosystem is currently undergoing a period of rapid growth. Amid the continued expansion of its non-oil sector, the Kingdom achieved one of the highest economic growth rates in the world last year and has been recognized as one of the best-performing countries in terms of leveraging reforms to improve its business environment. In Q2 2023, the Kingdom led the region in VC funding and capital raised, accounting for 42% of MENA funding at a value of $446 million.
Among the Saudi start-ups participating in Web Summit 2023 were: Zid, Lendo, Nuqtah, Syarah, Asasat Advanced Systems, Wosul, Kabi, Master Works, resal, WhiteHelmet, Mustadem, and Tachyon.
Monsha’at’s participation at WebSummit follows its recent participation in other world-class conferences, including SWITCH Singapore, and ComeUp Korea, where it has helped connect some of the Kingdom’s leading start-ups with the international business and investment communities.
Monsha’at was established in 2016 with the aim of regulating, supporting, developing, and sponsoring the SME sector in the Kingdom in accordance with global best practices, in order to increase the productivity of SMEs and their contribution to GDP.
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