COVID-19 response by CBi supported networks

Connecting Business initiative Secretariat • 26 June 2020

Last updated 17 September 2020


Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) 

  • The chamber has prepared national preventive protocols with the Government.  

  • They also share daily updates with their members. 

  • It is also planning to assist with business continuity. Acknowledging that 55% of GDP is connected to the tourism sector, the economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be very high. The chamber has worked with the Ministry of Finance to design and eventually roll out an economic stimulus package, particularly for SMEs. The private sector has also been asked to contribute to the package, as the Government would not be able to absorb the entire cost. In order to incentivize the private sector to support, the package also recommended future concessions.  They noted the challenges for the business community particularly as they are still recovering from Hurricane Dorian.

  • The Chamber is liaising closely with CARICOM.  

Cote d’Ivoire

Plateforme humanitaire du secteur privé de Côte d’Ivoire (PHSP Côte d’Ivoire) 

  • The Government introduced containment measures (closed schools, restricted entry to the country, etc.) and advised the private sector to support.

  • PHSP Côte d’Ivoire has raised awareness among its members of the risks and hygiene practices to ensure people understand the importance of curbing the spread of the virus. On 20 March they organized a conference with Institut Pasteur en Côte - the organization responsible for testing in the country.

  • The network has also met with UNDP and the Red Cross to discuss business continuity. They have collected and discussed the needs and challenges of the private sector. They are also planning to leverage the knowledge of the Red Cross and hand out flyers to companies to communicate on the risks. 
  • The network facilitates donations in partnership with its member networks such as The Ivorian Network of Human Resources Managers (RIGRH) and local companies such as Afric Phyto Plus (A2P) to support la Croix Rouge Côte d’Ivoire (CRCI), le Haut Patronat des Commerçants et Opérateurs économiques de Côte d’Ivoire (HPCO-CI), and la Coalition des Entreprises de Côte d’Ivoire contre le Sida, la Tuberculose et le Paludisme (CECI) in humanitarian actions. 


The Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council (FBDRC)

  • The Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council (FBDRC), a CBi member network and one of the nine councils under the umbrella of the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF), played a critical role as the business representatives at the National Disaster Management Office and Advisory Service, with support through its various focal points from the business sectors and the non-government organisations. Their efforts included coordinating private sector engagement with government and partners on resilience building, response and recovery activities, collaborating on business continuity plans, mapping out service providers for recovery, and supporting communities in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO).


Alliance pour la Gestion des Risques et la Continuité des Activités (AGERCA) 

  • During the past three months, the Alliance pour la Gestion des Risques et la Continuité des Activités (AGERCA), together with its partners, has carried out a series of activities in the context of the fight against the coronavirus both in the field and on digital platforms.
  • AGERCA launched the Response Platform of Civil Society Organizations (PROC19), an initiative that brings together several civil society organizations with the aim of converging efforts to carry out responses to this health crisis.
  • The network carried out an impact survey of the effect of COVID-19 on small- and medium-sized Haitian enterprises, distributed hygiene kits, and carried out training around health and safety measures.
  • Alliance pour la Gestion des Risques et la Continuité des Activités (AGERCA) met with the Ministry of Health on 19 March as the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country. The Ministry has asked AGERCA to support national efforts and the network now participates in daily meetings with the National Emergency Operation Center.

  • The network has coordinated private sector contributions from the private sector such as internet connection and call minutes for the members of the National Emergency Operations Center and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals. AGERCA and Digicel have set up a free COVID-19 Emergency Call Center through which nurses can respond to questions from the public.

  • The network uses social media and sends out messages through the Emergency Call Center to raise awareness of COVID-19, its implications and critical containment measures. They also send out regular situation reports.

  • AGERCA is also working closely with the American Chamber of Commerce and the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industries. They have created a crisis unit to be able to guide the private sector.


Humanitarian Private Sector Partnership Platform for East Africa (HPPP) 

  • The Humanitarian Private Sector Partnership Platform (HPPP) has formed an advisory group, whose role is to advise and guide the strategic direction of HPPP.
  • The network became an official member of the UNDRR ARISE (Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies).
  • Some HPPP members have also taken action to implement a COVID-19 response in urban high-density population areas and to support education initiatives.
  • While only a few infections have been confirmed, the Government is acting fast to contain the spread of the virus. They have also consulted with the private sector (including KEPSA, Global Compact Network Kenya, HPPP) and are now putting together a “Kenya Compact” with task forces to explore impacts on and potential solutions from the private sector. 

  • HPPP is also joining consultations with UNHCR to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on refugee settlements and communities in Kenya that are not necessarily part of national plans. 

  • The network is also raising awareness among members on the pandemic. 

  • Some HPPP members have also taken action for example in response to the President’s request to banks and mobile money providers to consider reducing costs of transactions to encourage cashless modes of payment. Safaricom waived fees on its mobile money transfer service M-Pesa for transactions below Ksh1,000 ($10). The company also works with humanitarian actors to transfer cash through M-Pesa. Until mid-May, 3,000 people from Changamwe (informal settlement in Mombasa) have benefited from total cash transfers amounting to USD 30,532. ). Read more


Private Sector Humanitarian Platform (PSHP) Madagascar 

  • PSHP distributed 200 solar radios and educational kits in rural areas, for families to be able to tune in to COVID-19 related news and for children to follow courses offered by the Ministry of Education and other resources.
  • The network continued to distribute the illustrated children’s book CORONABOKY for awareness raising; maintained food distribution at the prison of Antanimora; took specific health-supporting actions to enhance hospital capacity among other things; and a project was carried out with the Akany Iarivo Mivoy Homeless Shelter & care to improve their infrastructure and offerings. 
  • PSHP Madagascar initiated a meeting with WHO on 18 March before any cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the country. Over 50 companies participated to learn about the context, receive guidance, exchange know-how and ask questions. As Madagascar has recently faced pneumonic plague and measles epidemics, participants also discussed lessons learned in addressing other diseases.

  • PSHP Madagascar has a health commission that has previously addressed the pneumonic plague epidemic in the country, but is now also providing communications support and raising awareness of COVID-19.

  • The network is working with a number of critical partners such as the Ministry of Health to share information and raise awareness among critical companies such as banks and telecommunications operators. The network also coordinates support from the private sector, such as the AXIAN Group (diversified entity operating in five key sectors: Real Estate, Energy, Telecoms, Financial Services and Innovation) that has offered support national authorities and communities.

  • On 22 March, the network joined an emergency conference call with WFP, BNGRC, major telecommunications operators and some companies from other sectors to discuss and evaluate the capacity of the telecommunications operators in supporting response efforts
  • PSHP Madagascar is in discussions with UN agencies / World Bank on potential cash transfer activities.

  • PSHP Madagascar has also discussed COVID-19 response and private sector engagement with Plateforme humanitaire du secteur privé de Côte d’Ivoire (PHSP Côte d’Ivoire).

  • The network is working with the National Risk and Disaster Management Office of Madagascar (BNGRC - the  operational lead of the Operational Command Center), Ministries (such as the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Interior and Decentralization), the Municipality of Antananarivo, subnational authorities and UN entities (UNICEF and WHO) to share information, raise awareness and channel private sector contributions.

  • The network has also coordinated contributions such as internet connection for the Operational Command Center, personal protective equipment (PPE), food, water and financial resources. As Madagascar has recently faced pneumonic plague and measles epidemics, PSHP Madagascar members have also been able to share lessons learned in addressing other diseases.

  • PSHP Madagascar has issued the Business Brief to provide an overview of the COVID-19 situation and emergency response in Madagascar. 


The Centro Nacional de Apoyo para Contingencias Epidemiologicas y Desastres (CENACED) 

  • The first meeting was hosted on Thursday 12 March. The UN Resident Coordinator, Pan-American Health Organization, Mexican health authorities and various other organizations presented the situation and possible scenarios. 

  • The private sector is currently looking for WHO recommendations, increasingly working from home and exploring other containment measures.  

  • CENACED does not yet have a response plan, as they are waiting for the authorities to share more information about the capacity of the healthcare system and specific needs. The network continues to inform its members about the developments. 
  • On 22 April, 2020, CENACED hosted a webinar "Impacto y escenarios de recuperación ante COVID-19"   to provide free training featuring the business continuity plan for the private sector.  



Pacific Business Resilience Network (PBRN) 

  • PBRN is raising awareness among its members on the pandemic and sharing resources.


Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) 

  • With the support of CBi, PDRF in partnership with UNDP and OCHA Philippines launched the SIKAP Platform in May to help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) prepare for COVID-19 recovery. 

  • Other PDRF initiatives addressed food security, supporting frontline healthcare workers with everything from equipment to accommodation and transport, organizing training of trainers and other online events, and launching a resource hub which includes a digital one-stop shop for recovery services for MSMEs. 

  • The Business Emergency Operations Center (B-EOC) was activated on Monday 16 March, though PDRF started monitoring the situation from the outset and have been working closely with the government and the UN Country Team in response planning. PDRF noted that they also need to still be prepared for natural disasters. 

  • As there are no protocols on pandemics yet, the network and its partners are learning as they go. They have four task teams that work on different areas, including elaborating on roles and responsibilities, and looking at planning (scenarios).

  • The network is also part of a UN communications working group and works together with WHO, Department of Health and others to push out messaging (i.e. not creating their own communications materials, but rather using existing ones). PDRF is trying to amplify and risk translate these messages for the business community. 

  • PDRF response planning focuses on containment measures and the needs of health care workers. The short term immediate response goal is to transport medical front liners and tents. The intermediate goal is to provide PPEs for medical front liners. The longer-term response involves (upon identification of specifications) provision of testing kits, ventilators and digital X-ray machines. So far the Project Kaagapay - a fundraising initiative of several private sector companies has raised a total of P91,903,995 in cash donations and in-kind donations equivalent to P25,132,365. As shortages have led increases in prices and a bidding war over supplies, the UN has offered to work with PDRF and do joint procurement for larger quantities. 
  • In cooperation with top business groups, PDRF has launched the Project Ugnayan to fund the distribution of grocery vouchers to urban poor residents. So far the project has raised 1.5 billion Philippine pesos (approximately US$30 million) and reached over 7.6 million people in the vulnerable communities of Greater Metro Manila. 
  • To assess how they can best support micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, PDRF released a survey to collect information and start planning for recovery. PDRF also developed the MSME Guide to Disaster Resilience with its partners for MSMEs to have an understanding of the basic concepts of disaster risk reduction and management, and business continuity practices. 
  • With the support of CBi, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), in partnership with UNDP and OCHA, launched the SIKAP Platform on 22 May. SIKAP - or Synergizing Recovery Initiatives, Knowledge, and Adaptation Practices for SMEs - is a unified online business recovery hub that will help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) bounce forward to the “next normal.” Read more.

  • PDRF recently launched two new recovery programs for enterprises during a virtual forum that gathered the country’s top business leaders and key government officials to tackle the prolonged impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

  • PDRF, New Zealand launch partnership strengthening LGUs’ COVID-19 infection prevention and control. Read more

Sri Lanka

Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD SL) 

  • In support of the Government’s efforts in controlling the situation, A-PAD Sri Lanka joined hands with HSBC Bank and other private sector partners who were generous in providing healthcare essentials and ration support to frontline workers, communities and the health sector.
  • On the 21st of April 2020, Sri Lanka commemorated a year since the Easter Sunday Bombings, one of the darkest days in the history of the country, by initiating the A-PAD / HSBC Phoenix Project to reach out to those who were affected by this brutal massacre and to offer consolation to the victims who survived.
  • A-PAD Japan joined Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 resistance efforts by offering solid support to the country in partnership with A-PAD Sri Lanka, providing an array of healthcare essentials to the Disaster Management Center (DMC).
  • When the epicenter of the crisis was still in China, the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD SL) partnered HSBC, Hongkong Red Cross, Aitken Spence Cargo and a Sri Lanka based distributor of face masks to arrange the procurement, freight service and distribution of the masks to Wuhan. A-PAD SL is sharing messaging from the Government with the private sector to raise awareness of the situation. They are also exploring who could supply personal protective equipment and medical equipment.

  • A-PAD SL provided support to the DMC in Sri Lanka to set up a COVID-19 Emergency Call Centre.

  • They are also engaged in a nation-wide social media campaign to raise awareness about personal preventive measures, business continuity, curfew regulations and other critical topics. A-PAD Sri Lanka partnered with supermarket chains to introduce guidelines on shopping etiquette for purchasing when curfew is lifted.
  • A-PAD Sri Lanka teamed up with HSBC to locally produce PPE for frontline workers. The HSBC bank provided the capital to local manufacturers and with A-PAD has been able to service the needs of the emergency responders. A-PAD SL also assisted in drafting Guidelines for Ramadan in the current context. Read more in the latest GHRP here.


Business for Goals (B4G) platform 

  • Building on the survey carried out in March, B4G conducted a second survey in May to assess the impact and need of businesses, and how the situation had evolved alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Various webinars were organized on topics ranging from labor laws to peer-to-peer learnings for businesses and women in business.
  • Some B4G members have also taken action to support SME digitalization journeys and launching a tool to help businesses consider and manage the human rights impacts of their operations.
  • Recognizing that health and economic impacts are closely connected, the network decided to focus its efforts on supporting the government containment measures. It is monitoring the situation and has started to mobilize the private sector. 

  • B4G platform has a three step approach to addressing COVID-19:

  1. Risk communications: The network is sending regular situation reports to its members. The first one focused on raising awareness of the risks, explaining what can be done at workplaces to contain the spread of the virus and how companies could prepare for potential closedowns. 

  2. Best practices: The network is planning to provide suggestions on how and for what policies should companies lobby. They will also explore advisory services and financing mechanisms to help companies cope with the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

  3. Opportunities: Acknowledging that COVID-19 is a “game changer” for some sectors, the network will try to identify what opportunities it may provide for companies to re-invent or improve their operations. 

  • The network is preparing a response plan.

  • B4G platform has issued the "Survey on Impact of COVID-19 on Enterprises and Needs" to understand how their member companies perceive COVID-19. Of the 780 companies that responded, 54% reported a drop in sales of more than 50% (71% in southeast of the country). The survey results indicated that 36% of small- and medium-sized enterprises have halted operations due to COVID-19. To read the full report, click here.


Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) 

  • VBRC partnered with Oxfam around an Unblocked Cash Release initiative, an innovative approach focused on the distribution of support in the form of goods and services to those most vulnerable as a result of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold.

  • VBRC also have business resilience workshops going on in the main provinces of Vanuatu, focusing on tourism and agricultural SME businesses.

  • The network will increase their business support centre with CBi funding and are about to embark on an increased range of service offerings including life and business coaching, one-on-one mentoring, financial literacy and bookkeeping training, and moving your business from the informal to formal sector.

  • The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) rolled out nation-wide pandemic business continuity planning materials and ran BCP workshops. The Government's Public Service Commission approached the VBRC to run business continuity trainings for all of the key government ministries with 9400 staff. This took place over 5 days. 
  • VBRC activated their members via the private sector clusters and has been supporting the National Disaster Management Office cluster groups particularly around logistics and health. The network facilitated the quarantine of people on the last commercial flights into the country at one of the VBRC member resorts. They also arranged donated COVID-19 test kits and medical supplies to be imported from China.
  • The VBRC economic recovery cluster worked with the Government to develop the country's stimulus package for business and employees. They worked with the Department of Labour and the National Superannuation fund to ensure recently unemployed people have access to draw down part of their savings due to the economic loss to families. 
  • With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Category 5 Cyclone struck Vanuatu on 5 April. Given the situation, VBRC provided a coordination mechanism for the private sector to engage with government and partners to address the double emergencies, including logistical support to deliver the aid, the financial resources to deliver and impact assessments. To read the full COVID-19 Vanuatu Response Report, click here.

For further details about CBi networks and private sector response, pleas click here to view the latest Situational Report.

Photo: UNHCR