Update from BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso on response to COVID-19 pandemic
Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) under the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) auspices has been at the forefront of the business response to the COVID-19 crisis.
This note serves to highlight the BLSA interventions and swift responses through its members to the COVID-19 crisis which has created an unprecedented challenge which will certainly have a long-term impact on our already ailing economy.
Below is the outline of what has been achieved to date:
Business War Room
Following the President’s initial address on the 15th March 2020, an urgent NEDLAC meeting was held the following day where business committed to 3 interventions; namely Public Health, Labour and Economic.
It was clear that all these interventions need to be properly coordinated under a well-resourced and structured Project Management Office (PMO).
BLSA was therefore requested by BUSA to reach out to our big four audit firms for consultancy skills and expertise. We immediately reached out to Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PWC for assistance and they gave us secondments, and an engine room for the war room (the PMO) which was immediately established.
The three working group interventions are also in full working mode and we have established structures and populated these accordingly. These are organised as follows:
▪ The Public Health Intervention Work-stream chaired by Stavros Nicolaou is focusing on mobilising private sector resources to supplement and enhance the public sector capability. The work focuses on private sector healthcare response; protective gear; testing kits availability; pathology and labs engagement and the Solidarity Fund (which is now a standalone project and further elaborated on below).
▪ The Economic Work-stream chaired by Martin Kingston is identifying critical sectors in the national response by helping to develop industry specific interventions, including tax and loan relief; ensure the security of critical supplies and energy; model the economic impact of COVID-19 and combat predatory pricing, rent seeking and panic buying.
▪ The Labour Work-stream chaired by Rob Legh is looking at issues around workplace adaptation; developing guidelines on issues such as short time; utilisation of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and to assist distressed workers and special leave.
▪ Solidarity Fund – is designed to unite the nation to alleviate the suffering and distress caused by COVID-19 and it is chaired by Whiphold founder; Gloria Serobe and deputy chaired by Adrian Enthoven, who is also a BLSA board member.
The Fund will be independently administered and transparently governed through an independent board to ensure that the funds are effectively and efficiently used to combat COVID-19.
EY was requested to assist with the establishment of the Solidarity Fund ahead of the appointment of an independent board and chief executive, whereupon thereafter the board will take full responsibility for the fund and its activities.
The Fund will be a rapid response vehicle through which contributions from citizens, communities, business and international donors can be pooled together to primarily fund four key initiatives:
– Prevent: preventative and supporting measures to “flatten the curve” by lowering infection rates – Detect: detect and understand the magnitude of the infection problem – Care: assist with the management of those people in hospital or medical care – Support: support those people whose lives are disrupted by COVID-19.
We urge you and the organisation to consider contributing to the Solidarity Fund to ensure that as a country, we are able to quickly and comprehensively deal with the challenges faced as a result of COVID-19.
Should you have any questions on this process or require any further information please find the relevant contact details below:
General information on the Solidarity Fund: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the public or if you are acting in your personal capacity: Email: email@example.com or Phone: 0860 001 001
Corporates and Foundations: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Email: email@example.com or Phone: 0860 001 001
BLSA would also like to elevate the responsiveness of our law firms (Bowmans, Webber Wentzel and ENS) who were very reactive and have seconded a few of their team members to assist with the Labour (and Legal) workstream that has been established.
Overall, the support we have received as BLSA has been indeed heartening and it’s encouraging to observe that the business response (Business for South Africa) during this critical time is by and largely driven by BLSA members, who are leading the majority of the approximately 20 streams that have been established in this short period.
As we go through this difficult time, we will be continually reach out to you for assistance and the PMO will shortly be directly contacting all those who have offered to assist.
BLSA will send out regular updates under Business for South Africa (BSA) informing members of the work being undertaken.