The monthly survey collects data in real-time and tracks how SMEs have been riding through the socio-economic turbulence since the pandemic made contact in the region in April 2020.
Newly appointed Trade Commissioner of the Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand office, Glynis Miller said “the results are not surprising as they do reflect real challenges faced by a large majority of SMEs.”
From data gathered in January, the fiscal and emotional impact of not knowing when the crisis will abate is taking its toll.
While the extent and severity of COVID-19 on SMEs has improved slightly, with 84% reporting a negative impact (89% in December), a drop has also been noted in businesses’ confidence levels with 75% reporting they will survive the crisis (down from 78% compared to the same period last month).
Moreover, 86% of those surveyed reported a decline in revenue earnings due to COVID-19.
This is the lowest it has been since the Pacific Trade Invest network started tracking SME performance in April 2020.
According to survey respondents, the top three types of technical assistance businesses require are financial support including help with reviewing and advising on their financial positions: business diversification and access to new markets.
The January report noted that the top barrier for female-led businesses to action was a lack of finance/revenue/cash flow with 41% reporting barriers compared to 15% in male-led businesses.
“When the accumulative data is reviewed month on end, we note the consistent pinch points faced by SMEs – the tough decisions taken to reduce operational costs, reduce working hours and diversify their services or products. “That said, within the data collected there is evidence of businesses having performed exceptionally well throughout COVID-19 where production and export levels have increased substantially compared to the same period last year.”
The COVID-19 situation has presented opportunities along with their own peculiar challenges most of which is being addressed at the regional level.
Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand along with the PTI network of offices in Australia and China (Geneva will become operational soon) pays close attention to the findings of the Pacific Business Monitor reports to tailor support programmes where sectors need particular attention or assistance.
Photo file Caption: Downtown Nuku'alofa