5 tips on how to help your small business survive the COVID-19 pandemic: practical words from UNDP-linked millennial entrepreneurs.

May 1, 2020

Adapt, adjust and grow! That’s the mantra for every budding business player. With the unfolding global COVID-19 pandemic, never has this formula felt more relevant. Indeed, the current crisis presents a perfect challenge to put our business resilience into practice by adapting to situations quicker than a chameleon in a rose garden.

UNDP Indonesia is proud to have worked with some of the top minds in entrepreneurship through our YouthCo Lab programme and business accelerator programme Impact Aim.

So, in their own words, here are some of tips to survive amid this challenging situation

1. Identifying the hidden opportunities

And like all hidden opportunities; they are hard to come by. It’s called hidden for a reason. So, we need to open our eyes and ears to tune into the conversation; rely on your networks to find out what lies ahead. Remember everybody counts in times of crisis, from the front liners who are delivering your products to your local customers – everybody has a piece of information or lead that you can capitalise on. So before you adapt and make changes in your products, make sure you leave no stone unturned in finding your next opportunities.

2. Diversify your products and services – real quick

Don’t spend too much time doing detective work in identifying your hidden opportunities. Remember, time is of the essence here . You are racing against other competitors who are on the same mission. Suri the Goods, a West Sumatra province-based natural-skincare social enterprise placed second in Youth Co: Lab 2019. Their win was not without reason because soon after the pandemic COVID19 hit Indonesia, not only did they find a way to diversify their products to address the spike in demand for hand sanitizers , but they also did it in less than three weeks.

“Our first priority now is to ride the wave' in many ways. We are launching wellness & homecare products to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe this is also the moment for social enterprise to shine and create an impact that is really meaningful to society,” said Laressa Amaly, co-founder of Suri The Goods.

3. Anticipate the surge, otherwise you lose out.

If you are one of the lucky ones and you happen to be in a business producing in- demand products in times of crisis, then you’ve hit the business plan jackpot. But be sure to use the jackpot wisely because too much of a good thing can kill you. So be prepared to seek new partners or make adjustments in your production line to meet the surging demand.

"Facing the COVID-19 situation and the challenges it poses, we only have two options: to survive and innovate or to shut down," said Indra Hari Darmawan, the owner of Huma Bahijau, who placed third in f Youth Co: Lab 2018.

But thanks to Huma Bahijau’s core products – Moringa Tea - believed to boost immunity and build stamina- the company has received a surge of demand.

“With the increasing demand for Moringa tea, we have a lot of new customers that are expected to become regular customers. From our side, we are trying our best to increase supply and choose to partner with moringa farmers in East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan,” added Darmawan.

4. Stepping up your game.

Another business player that has enjoyed a surge is Kitabisa. The online crowd founder platform has stepped up to support communities as they struggle to cope with the challenges of COVID-19.

“As Indonesia and Southeast Asia’s leading donation-based crowdfunding platform, Kitabisa received a large number of requests to help facilitate individuals, communities, organizations, and companies who want to raise money for causes related to COVID-19 and connect them to individual donors,” said Vikra Ijas, Co-Founder of Kitabisa.

5. Get your facts right

Finally – always get your facts right. Ok, we admit, we are doing a bit of cheating here as the advice may not come as a surprise, but really what we do is promoting UNDP’s go-to platform for fact checking.

Nothing flourishes more than fake news in times of crisis and public confusion. Qlue is a go-to platform for gov-tech solutions in Indonesia focused mainly on helping clients create better urban living conditions.

Qlue, along with a range of other Indonesian companies such as Kata.ai, Volantis, and Telkom Group among others launched Indonesia Bergerak (https://indonesiabergerak.com/), a platform featuring updated COVID-19 information for the public.

“Qlue activates a smart city ecosystem by providing QlueApp as citizen platform to report and observe the COVID-19 developments, which is used by staff from the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) in the field to coordinate various tasks effectively and efficiently.” said Rama Raditya (Founder and CEO). Both KitaBisa and Qlue were part of Impact Aim Venture Accelerator Program’s first cohort.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate the way we address these challenges and prepare for the future. It is encouraging to realize that amidst this chaos, young entrepreneurs are leading the way, maintaining a strong sense of community and showing that we all have a role in helping to build back better.


Writing by Lady Diandra and Cindy Colondam

Edited By Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose