Business organisations have mobilised an enormous amount of human resources into full-time pro-bono work to limit the economic, social and health effects of Covid-19, and to support public sector initiatives.

Countries around the world are projecting huge contractions of GDP, especially in the second quarter of 2020, despite the injection of huge resources by governments into wealthy economies. In SA, which does not have the significant fiscal stimulus resources, a full-year recession is expected and the risk of the permanent failure of businesses is extremely high.

The business response includes both Business Unity SA (Busa) and the Black Business Council, and dwarfs all previous business initiatives in its scale and impact. Representatives met President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday to discuss strategy and plans over the next few weeks.

“Desperate times demand desperate measures. We have embarked on this major collaboration — among SA businesses and with the government — to share best practice, reduce risk wherever possible, and implement practical measures to ease the hardships caused by this global catastrophe. We will see through this pandemic by preparing effectively, adapting where necessary and acting decisively,” Busa vice-president Martin Kingston said in a statement on Sunday.