Taiwan is on top of its game during the…

Taiwan is on top of its game during the pandemic, what can we learn?

In the year 2002, another type of coronavirus that was found to have originated in China – coined the term ‘SARS-cov’ (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – affected over 8000 people in 26 countries and claimed nearly 800 lives, the majority of which came from Taiwan. With the devastating effects of what is known today as COVIDS-19’s mother virus, it comes as no surprise that Taiwan saw the coronavirus coming earlier than most and took the necessary precautions to protect the Island before things got bad. 

According to Dr Lo Yin-Chun, the deputy director general of Taiwans’ Centres for Disease Control (CDC), colleagues of his detected social media posts about a strange pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China. While the original posts in China were removed, Taiwan did receive a stream of screenshots on their PTT Bulletin Board System and this raised some serious concerns. While not much information was given by China about what was happening, speculation arose from theron that this could be a recurrence of the SARS-cov pandemic of 2003. On the very day that he received the call, 31 of December 2019, Dr Lo took quick precaution to protect the Island. Firstly he sent an email to WHO asking for more information about this mysterious pneumonia, then he instructed that the Island begin initiating screening tests for all flights arriving from Wuhan. 

On the 13th of January, health experts from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau travelled to Wuhan in order to further investigate the virus closely. After discovering a family that was affected, with both the husband and wife testing positive, they realised that there was a possibility of human-to-human transmission (being as the wife was handi-capped and could not have travelled to the marketplace where the virus is said to have originated.) Upon the travellers’ return to their respective countries, Taiwan quickly implemented safety procedures through its Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) and the whole island was locked safely inside.

The first COVID-19 case was found in Taiwan on the 21st of January, after this discovery more precautions were taken. By March 21st Taiwan had started quarantining inbound travellers coming from known affected countries for 14 days, all civilians were banned from overseas travel until July and the airports conducted regular testing on all airplane commuters before dismounting the aircrafts. Taiwan was expected to have one of the highest COVID-19 cases in the world, being as it was only 100 miles away from the Chinese mainlands, yet the small island with a significantly large population has recorded less than 500 cases and only 6 deaths to date. 

Taiwan responded to what was coming earlier than any other country, not relying entirely on information from China or the WHO to start taking precautions (a result of their political differences, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise). Private sectors in Taiwan have been able to continue with business and although they are taking precautions, the Island has been able to refrain from implementing heavy-handed social distancing rules. On the 25th of March a cancellation of mass gatherings was recommended by CECC, they also collected all the necessary data to track  the spread of the virus and instructed those affected to self-isolate  until they started experiencing symptoms, only then would they be taken in and hospitalised.

While there has been a slight economic slowdown, Taiwan seems to be doing quite well overall. Schools are open, borders are controlled, health is prioritised thanks to the Deputy director generals’ foresight.  If once bitten, twice shy was a country, Taiwan would be it – SARS-cov wretched havoc on the nation but not this time, they have learned from the past, so what can we learn from them? 

To name a few: 

  1. History is the best teacher, when a threat arises, it is better to take precaution before it faces you directly. A wise man once said that there is nothing new under the sun, it is important to look at what has befallen society, technology, the economy and the health industry in the past. Only then will you have the foresight necessary to prepare for what is coming.
  2. Taiwan has a bulletin board system known as the PTT –  this is the island’s forum for public discussion and advice on many topics, often given anonymously. The platform was designed by a group of students at National Taiwan University in 1995, it has a dated appearance and therefore has been severely estimated by the Chinese media savvy population but it is one of the most popular online forums in Taiwan and played a good hand in saving the nation. The PTT is a good lesson in the importance of selflessly  sharing knowledge and information, this will help African nations’ boost each other and  themselves economically, socially  and medically. With the tech industry booming as much as it is, this should be a very easy undertaking for our continent.
  3. The Taiwaneze tech economy is booming as the demand from China, Europe and the USA has increased. This is an area that could save the African economies, before COVID-19 Africa was the hotspot for emerging technologies, if we can focus on this and work patiently and diligently through the epidemic, there might be hope for us yet. 

What else can we learn from COVID-19? What else can we learn from Taiwan? What can we learn about ourselves? 


Resuscitating the marketing industry during COVID-19

Resuscitating the marketing industry during COVID-19

With the alarming rate at which COVID-19 has been spreading, the global stock market has been seeing a rapid decline which is affecting many businesses, markets and individuals. Since the nationwide lockdown was announced there have been changes in customer buying habits and individual industry productivity. The sudden collapse in the demand for advertising is one that the industry has never seen before, even previous recessions have seen the marketing industry as one of the few that still thrived but this time, it has been turned on its head. So what now? 

The facts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are disheartening, not only because so many people are infected but also because of the economic implications. 

In planning their campaigns, marketers should mostly consider the buying behaviours of those most affected by the virus who have low spending propensities, these are individuals who do not have a significant disposable income, individuals who are in retirement, and small business owners. Even industries or companies that are supply-chain reliant on other countries are experiencing shipment slowdowns, malls are not functioning in full effect and businesses that are affiliated with any events that should have taken place during this time are losing money. However, through all this businesses and brands still need to find a way to maintain a good relationship with consumers and employees, focusing mainly on what they can do for people in light of the pandemic and being transparent about the health and safety of their workers and the products. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: An amazing way to make sure your business gets through this pandemic stronger would be to not take advantage of the situation but instead finding industry specific solutions that will contribute positively to society. 

If you are in the field of marketing then you have probably heard of the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing; Pride, Envy, Wroth, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth and Greed/Avarice. These are the principles that the marketing field is said to have thrived on since the dawn of time. Things have changed now, however, the marketing industry being turned on its head might not be such a bad thing after all, maybe we don’t flip it back but instead we work with it this way instead. How do we resuscitate the marketing industry during COVID-19? 

Simple answer, the 7 Viral Virtues, as suggested by Brian Basilico; humility, then abundance, purity, kindness, order, peace, and action. I say this because, even though most businesses have lost a lot of money during this pandemic, the agencies that have helped others selflessly by either decreasing premium prices or offering more free premium features for their services have built a huge brand following. While this might not be generating any profit for them right now, it has created more traffic towards their websites, social media pages and other online platforms. For example, after giving away a free marketing course, Eric Siu saw a rise in his social media following which then opened up the opportunity to present his products to an even larger crowd. Selfless acts of humanity rarely ever go unrewarded, when people are grateful to you they stick with you, they trust you. When offering free online services it might take much longer to break even financially, but that’s ok, in the long run the brand is what secures future profits and a loyal customer base. Humility, abundance, purity, kindness, order and peace is shown through caring more about what you can bring to the table instead of what you can get.

Another thing that is very important for marketers to realise is that in-store traffic and demand have fallen significantly since people have been staying home because of the lockdown, which means an increase in home-based online and television activity. Advertisers can now reach their target customers by investing mostly in TV and digital marketing. Since the traffic is up online, paid ads are becoming cheaper and businesses are seeing a much ROI from paid ads than before COVID-19 hit. When advertising online it is also very important to consider creating interactive content, and give people the opportunity to connect with your business. 

Marketers should also realise that right now people are looking to reduce their cash spend, a great way to help customers make their buying process easier is by offering Payment Plans, this will help reduce the financial strain on customers in the short run. By doing this businesses can also increase their conversion rates, and everybody wins. Diversifying your traffic can also help keep your business afloat, while it is good to have a niche – right now relying on only one economy can be a problem because of the vast uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus.

One other good opportunity that the directors here at e-Mfundi have seen has been to offer educational based training, we have seen the gap in South Africa where people are struggling with unemployment and are looking for opportunities. At e-Mfundi, we have been open about the coming change in the future of occupation due to the 4th Industrial Revolution, our objective has been to educate Africa about what is coming, to help individuals see technology as an ally towards a successful future and not as a threat. We had hoped to transition our fellow countries men into a biodigital future and cultivate problem solvers, opportunists, and industry disruptors across the board. However due to this pandemic we see the future drawing in faster than we had anticipated and the pressure to adapt to the new almost entirely digital occupation system. Our NEST website focuses primarily on helping people start their own businesses in any industry and what they can do during this pandemic to get it off the ground.

According to the World Health Organisation, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just technology-driven change; it is an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy-makers and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future.” With the daily count of new Coronavirus victims growing many people are inclined to feel disheartened about the future, but we can make a change. 
Technology has offered us a platform to show love towards one another safely by allowing us to connect from a distance. While we are at home, make an effort to grow yourself as well as your business and you will come out of the Coronavirus stronger. We are living in a time where people are so ingenious and inventive that in the future they will accredit this huge dent in the economy to shock and nothing more because soon we will be seeing more imaginative responses to this crisis so that business and life itself can go on.  A re ithuteng, re berekeng, re tswelele rotlhe re le sechaba.


How your Start-Up can use Fin-tech to thrive

How your Start-Up can use Fin-tech to thrive

Fintech is the term used to refer to innovations in the financial and technology crossover space, and typically refers to companies or services that use technology to provide financial services to businesses or consumers (Sraders, 2019). Any company that provides financial services through software such as the internet, mobile services or the cloud is a Fintech company. Simply put, Fintech is a digital financial infrastructure.

For many years financial institutions have built payment systems that are gradually becoming obsolete since the disruptive phenomenon that is fintech took the fore. For the past three years we have seen a rise in virtual currencies, distributed ledgers and decentralized protocols coming through fintech startups led by young entrepreneurs who better understand the millennial digital market.

For today’s digital crowd, the world is flat and goods can be bought and sold from anywhere around the world with a simple tap of a button on a phone or a PC and be delivered to your doorstep in just a few hours. In South Africa the demand for new, digital solutions for more flexible financial transactions has been driving the South African Fintech companies forward, putting Fintech startups at the top of the industry with the most funding in all of Africa and the world is taking note.

According to Finextra, most of the fintech startups in South Africa are concentrated on the five major banking functions: payments, capital raising, deposits, lending, investment management, and market provisioning (Rabin, 2019). We are however still slacking on the other fields of fintech such as wealth management and investment but we are hopeful. South Africa is on an innovative marathon and soon innovative solutions to tackle bigger markets will emerge.

Existing financial institutions can benefit from working with startups, with the one providing stability and a bigger platform for the other to function profitably and the other providing new industry insights and innovative solutions for the other to keep its head above the water.

Now the call is for banks to fall into the fold and actively step into the Fintech space.

“Financial institutions must be able to deliver an easy to navigate, a seamless digital platform that goes far beyond a miniaturized online banking offering.”

– Jim Marous

A famous Zulu saying goes “Nala kungekho Qhude kuyasa,” directly translated the saying is ‘even where there is no rooster, the sun rises.’ This proverb teaches us that change will come whether or not we are prepared for it. However, while there has been a huge buzz and excitement in the general public about Fintech, many banks have simply dismissed the movement. Fin-tech is not only about technological integration with Finance, it is also the success propellent in the market of these changing times. For financial companies to succeed they must implement some changes by moving from traditional financial service practices and adopting a more customer centric system that will keep them relevant.

Our current state of industry is in desperate need of change as most people have very little faith in their banks and around 33% of South Africa’s adult population, according to FinMark Trust, has no access to banks and are living on payslip to payslip. These people need financial services more but they have very few and very expensive options.

Instead of financial institutions viewing Fintech as either a threat or a passing fad, they could leverage this change by either merging and investing in Fintech startups or developing new technologies that can help them better service their customers while cutting huge banking costs for all stakeholders. Imagine a bank that caters for the individuals specific needs, while cutting costs and improving customer experience.

Tech service delivery is on the rise and we have a good opinion that no man should be left behind. Fintechs positive impact on society is undeniable as it is increasing industry competition, reducing prices paid by customers and is providing services for customers whose needs aren’t being met by traditional banking. For those of us who have not hopped on the fintech train, now is the time. Get ready for the sun even before the rooster crows.