Discovering the Mysteries: A Dive into the Universe of Rich Consulting Presentations

Creating business presentations requires careful consideration, especially for big consulting firms. Typically, consulting PowerPoint presentations or decks are used for two reasons: presenting information and delivering important documents. Often, this leads to content-heavy presentations that aim to balance thoroughness with ease of understanding. So, is it possible that despite the apparent overcrowding of consulting presentations, there is a systematic approach or reasoning behind it? In this article, we investigate what makes these types of presentations effective despite containing a lot of information and lacking a minimalist aesthetic. We will explore the reasons behind extensive blocks of text and data on slides and whether they help deliver impactful presentations. Two Types of Business Presentations Presentations play a vital role in the realm of business, taking on varying formats and serving a number of objectives. Their primary goal is to tell a story that informs, activates, inspires, persuades, etc. while effectively conveying clear takeaways, presenting compelling insights, and captivating the audience through an engaging narrative. We distinguish two styles of business presentations that hold significant importance and relevance: Steve Jobs style The first style is commonly referred to as the "Steve Jobs style." These large keynote presentations, often seen at events, conferences, and investor pitches, involve the speaker standing on a stage and presenting to a large audience, for instance, to introduce a new product being launched. So, what sets these presentations apart? Well, they often feature minimal visual elements, with only a few pictures or words on the slides. What is specific here is that these presentations are intended to be presented. They are designed for a large stage, emphasizing the need for a presenter to stand in front of the screen, effectively explain and provide context, and elaborate on the content displayed. It’s an example of one-way communication, and typically the presenter has a lot of credibility (CEO, Head of product line, etc.). Keynote Example: Steve Jobs Introduces The iPhone (Apple) Of course, Steve Jobs' style has become well-known and is often considered the standard for business presentations. However, this style is quite different from the consulting style of PowerPoint presentations. If this seems obvious to you, you may wonder what the consulting style of presentation design looks like. Consulting style Unlike conferences or keynote decks that tend to place emphasis on creating an attractive visual representation, consulting presentations prioritize substance over style. The primary goal is to offer valuable information and insights rather than focusing solely on creating a creative design and an impressive visual experience for the audience. Typically, consulting presentations are created for more formal audiences, for instance, C-level executives or board members of a company or organization. These presentations are characterized by their heavy content and extensive use of data and supporting details. And indeed, what's probably also very interesting is that these presentations are often not even presented; they are well-structured and self-explanatory. So, consulting presentations can be used for both presenting information and delivering essential documents. Here’s how consultants use them: First, to present information - Consultants rely on PowerPoint decks to clearly convey complex ideas, findings, and recommendations to their clients. The presentation includes slides with visually appealing charts and graphs showcasing, for example, market trends, competitive analysis, consumer insights, etc. The consultants use these slides as visual aids to guide their discussion, explaining each slide in detail, highlighting key points, and answering questions from the client. In addition, consulting PowerPoint decks serve as comprehensive deliverables that encapsulate crucial information, such as reports or recommendations, which can be shared with clients or internal teams. These decks are self-explanatory and include comprehensive plan proposals. They allow stakeholders to review the plans at their own convenience, without the need for a presenter. The slides within this presentation should be thoughtfully organized, inclusive of distinct headings and concise bullet points, facilitating effortless navigation even when reviewing key takeaways independently. So, how does the structure of these slides help the client process a significant amount of information as efficiently as possible? Effective consulting presentation A consulting presentation tends to have a lot of information and data, and it can be hard for clients to grasp the key insights right away. So, when building consulting slides, it’s especially important to make sure they’re structured in a way that makes them clear, insightful, and engaging. The goal is to make the presentation as easy as possible for the audience to understand and guide them through the different layers of the slides so they can process a lot of information as efficiently as possible. Effective consulting slide structure An essential aspect of any consulting slide is its ability to effectively communicate information, and a key way to accomplish this is through a logical structure. The design composition of the slide should not provide a sense of disorder or imbalance and make the viewer solve a subconscious problem. According to Gestalt theory, the human brain subconsciously interprets visuals in a very specific way so that we can make use of them. Generally, people read slides from top to bottom and left to right, so organizing the content in a way that supports this flow is crucial. Starting with a clear title allows the audience to grasp the overall message of the slide, while the subsequent details and supporting points provide additional context. So, if someone just reads the slide titles and ignores all the content, they should get the gist of it. And at the same time, they have all the details in one place if they need them. Typically, consulting slides are created to convey a story, with each slide delivering a unique message, and the most effective presentations have a narrative thread that runs through the titles of the slides. Thus, weaving a compelling narrative is the cornerstone of delivering an effective consulting presentation. All consulting firms employ two important concepts, the SCQA Framework and the pyramid principle, which transform dry presentations into persuasive stories with clear narratives: The SCQA framework, which stands for (Situation, Complication, Question, Answer), allows you to craft a story around the information you are trying to present. It provides context and explains to the audience why they should care. This framework is particularly useful when consultants are using presentations to present information. The Pyramid principle involves communicating information by starting with the main idea and then providing supporting details. This approach ensures that the audience understands exactly what you are trying to convey and how you have reached your conclusions. The pyramid principle is highly effective when consultants are using presentations to deliver important documents. 5 Secrets for Creating Effective Consulting Slides Every slide in a consulting presentation needs to be self-explanatory. And this, of course, requires a higher level of detail, often a higher level of text, for these presentations to stand up for themselves. The important thing is that the insights are clear and interesting, even if there is a lot of information and detail. We will unveil five secrets to help you construct compelling consulting slides that tell a story, provide key takeaways, and engage your audience from start to finish. Secret 1: Nail the Title The title of your slide plays a critical role in summarizing its content and key takeaways. It should encapsulate the main message and provide a glimpse into the insights it offers. By crafting concise and attention-grabbing titles, you set the stage for the audience to understand the slide's purpose and capture their interest right away. Secret 2: Guide the Reader To effectively guide your audience through your presentation, follow the pyramid principle. Start with the highest level of the idea or main concept and gradually delve into supporting details. This logical progression allows the audience to comprehend your message effortlessly, ensuring a smooth flow of information. Secret 3: Add Visuals Visual elements are powerful tools for enhancing the processing speed of information. Incorporate charts, graphics, icons, or relevant pictures to bring your data to life in a creative and visually appealing way. These visuals provide a mental boost, making it easier for your audience to grasp complex information quickly. Secret 4: Annotate Your Data To highlight the insights within your slide, employ annotations that guide the audience's attention. Annotations can include color coding, arrows, boxes, or text callouts, drawing focus to important points and key takeaways. Go beyond presenting raw data by interpreting and explaining its significance. Show the audience what the data on the slide means and provide context to help them connect the dots. This secret is what is going to make the difference between a good slide and a great slide. Secret 5: Clean and Format Slides Designing visually appealing slides involves two crucial steps. Firstly, add labels, navigators, sources, footnotes, and other relevant details to ensure transparency and credibility. Secondly, meticulously align and format each element of your slide, verifying that everything is properly placed and visually harmonious. This attention to detail elevates the overall professionalism and impact of your presentation. To sum up, consulting presentations serve a specific purpose in the business world, focusing on delivering valuable information and insights rather than prioritizing visual aesthetics. These content-heavy presentations are often used to present complex ideas, findings, and recommendations to clients, as well as serve as comprehensive deliverables. Despite their extensive use of data and text, effective consulting presentations can be structured in a way that allows clients to understand and process information efficiently. The key to creating an impactful consulting presentation lies in its logical structure. By organizing slides with clear titles and supporting details, consultants can guide the audience through the information effectively. Weaving a compelling narrative throughout the presentation enhances its effectiveness, utilizing frameworks such as the SCQA framework and the pyramid principle to transform dry presentations into persuasive stories with clear narratives. By crafting presentations that are self-explanatory, well-structured, and insightful, consultants can effectively deliver valuable information, engage their audience, and meet the unique needs of formal and discerning stakeholders. Author: Amine Hijaoui. Sources:,other%20parts%20of%20the%20slide,topic%20longer%20than%20ten%20minutes,a%20series%20of%20disparate%20elements.  

November 24 2022 | Business Strategy, Economics
Female entrepreneurship as a sign of women’s empowerment

Female entrepreneurship in developing vs. developed countries Studies have shown that empowering women to participate equally in the global economy could add up to $28 trillion in GDP growth by 2025. Many global indicators can be used to assess the level of women’s empowerment across developed and developing economies. Observing the growth in the number of female entrepreneurs is a great sign of women’s empowerment. The more women have access to equal opportunities, the more developed a country can be, and the easier it is to reduce any existing inequalities that can slow down the economic growth of a nation. To determine disparities in female entrepreneurship, 2020 data from the World Bank was used to compare the number and characteristics of firms among benchmark countries using the share of female entrepreneurship among the firms surveyed. The countries chosen for this observation are Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Finland to show where developing countries stand in comparison to more developed countries. As shown in the pie chart below, Finland and Belgium, both developed economies, appear to have the highest number of firms with female participation in ownership. On the contrary, Egypt has the lowest number of firms with female participation in ownership. The World Bank Enterprise survey shows that 44.2% of firms surveyed in Finland are owned by women, compared to 5.2% of firms surveyed in Egypt. These results show the disparities in the progress made toward the empowerment of active females in the labor market. Another important point to note is the fact that Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco all have lower shares of female entrepreneurship compared to Finland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In other words, it can be pointed out that economic and social development play a vital role in increasing the number of female entrepreneurs and encouraging more women to start their own business ventures.   Figure 1: Percentage of firms surveyed with female owners [caption id="attachment_8472" align="aligncenter" width="542"] Source: World Bank Enterprise Survey 2020[/caption] In many areas, women lack access to an entrepreneurial environment, social and institutional support, equal educational opportunities, and financial support programmes. Digging deeper, the literacy rates in the selected countries can show the knowledge and human capital gap between developed and developing countries.   Figure 2: % of females who can both read and write [caption id="attachment_8473" align="aligncenter" width="490"] Source: Global Gender Gap Report 2020 - The World Economic Forum[/caption] Based on that, education levels and enrollment rates directly impact women’s economic participation rates. This can be seen in the graph below:   Figure 3: Female Labor Force Participation Rates [caption id="attachment_8474" align="aligncenter" width="492"] Source: World Bank[/caption] The idea here is to show the correlation between female entrepreneurship, education levels, and labor force participation rates. The two chosen indicators prove the positive relationship between education, female labor force participation rates, and female entrepreneurship. This highlights the importance of policies aimed at increasing literacy rates and female economic participation, which can eventually help reduce the gender gap in entrepreneurship rates in both developed and developing countries. Lessons to learn from policies implemented in developed countries As a result of more women joining the workforce, public policy has focused on supporting women’s entrepreneurship since the 1970s. Since then, both developed and developing nations have adopted common policies and programmes aimed at promoting women's entrepreneurship. Despite substantial improvements in aiding women to overcome barriers to starting their own enterprises and working for themselves, women continue to face challenges, demanding further and more inclusive public policy action. Developing countries can observe and track effective policies implemented in developed countries that would enable the increase of female economic participation and, more importantly, female entrepreneurship. The gender gap in entrepreneurship can be reduced with the presence of profound measures and support programmes targeted at encouraging women’s economic participation. Examples of successful policies include: Finland: The Equality Programme includes providing loans to small companies, counseling, training, and establishing an entrepreneurs' mutual assistance network. This draws attention to the importance of access to finance for women entrepreneurs. European Union: The European Union's structural funds support numerous initiatives promoting women's employment. For instance, the Structural Funds' programmes aim to encourage female entrepreneurs, keep unemployed people engaged in the workforce, make it easier for people to re-enter the workforce, and enhance skills. European Union: The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan calls for awareness-raising, entrepreneurship training, improved access to financing, stronger networks, and support in reconciling business and family life. The Programme revolves around 3 pillars: investing in entrepreneurial education, reducing financial burdens by improving access to finance, and recognizing and providing awards to role models. Sweden: The ‘Women Ambassadors’ scheme was set up to (i) increase the visibility of female entrepreneurship; (ii) inspire female entrepreneurship through personal stories and role models;(iii) make it easier for women to identify with entrepreneurial role models; (iv) encourage more women to view entrepreneurship as a potential career; and (v) help women address their entrepreneurial challenges by sharing their experiences. The programme ambassadors have reached more than 170,000 women in approximately 11,000 activities. The survey of the programme’s participants and ambassadors has shown that the participants had more interest in entrepreneurship after meeting an ambassador. Belgium: Young Company initiative aims to give students experience that closely resembles managing a business in the real world. The concept is built on the foundation of a joint-stock firm. This gives young people the chance to work in a variety of firm positions, including those of director and HR manager, among others. Young Company aims to reach children in secondary schools. Currently, policies related to women’s empowerment are not sufficient to overcome the low levels of female entrepreneurship in developing countries. It is also worth noting that allowing women to engage in growth possibilities will help developing nations speed up their economic and social development. Around the world, female business owners significantly contribute to economic growth and the eradication of poverty. Women-owned businesses, for instance, are growing more than twice as quickly as all other businesses in the United States, contributing close to $3 trillion to the national economy and directly supporting 23 million job opportunities. Progress is also taking place in developing countries, where there are between 8 million and 10 million formal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with at least one female owner, and this number is rising. Studies have also shown that eliminating gender disparities in the workforce could increase the global GDP by 26%, benefiting both developed and developing nations. Globally, women continue to face significant obstacles that hinder the growth of their businesses, such as a lack of capital, strict social constraints, and limited time and skill. Despite the increase in education and school enrollment among women, they tend to lack the combination of education, vocational training, and skills required to promote the growth of highly productive firms. Regarding access to finance, the World Bank showed that 190 million fewer women than men own bank accounts. Therefore, achieving women’s empowerment is a vital step toward reducing gender inequalities and ensuring equal access to opportunities for all. Both the private and public sectors should create incentives to encourage investments in women-owned businesses to help accelerate women’s entrepreneurship. Reforms and policies that promote and encourage women’s entrepreneurship and economic participation should also be more common to achieve economic growth and reduce the global gender gap. More training programmes should be available for women who wish to start their own business ventures, allowing them to accumulate the managerial, financial, and technical skills needed to adapt to a business environment driven by technological advances. Author: Hebatallah Mohamed References: World Economic Forum: World Bank Enterprise Survey: Labor Force Participation Rates: Global Gender Gap Report 2020 - The World Economic Forum: Equality Programme of The Finnish Government: European Commission Entrepreneurship2020 Action Plan : Women Ambassadors, Sweden: Entrepreneurship education in Belgium: Female Entrepreneurship Resource Point - Introduction and Module 1: Why Gender Matters: Council on Foreign Relations:

Why corporate sustainability matters

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In the past, sustainability was often only seen as a buzzword in the PR toolkit. However, during the past few years, it has become a concept of the utmost importance. A few key dates The United Nations Global Compact, launched in 2000, is a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative that aims to align business strategies and operations with ten universally accepted principles in multiple areas, including human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption, and to drive efforts in support of broader UN goals. In early 2005, Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, invited a 20-person group of the world’s largest institutional investors from 12 countries to participate in the development of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), with the support of a 70-person group of experts in the investment industry, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society. The PRI helped provide a definition of sustainable investment and the actions that ensure that money is invested in a proper and wise way. However, it would take another ten years for these investment criteria to spread further. 2015 was a turning point for business sustainability. The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, was adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris on December 12th, 2015, and entered into force on November 4th, 2016. It is aiming at “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the climate change process since it is the first binding agreement that brought all nations together for a common cause: combatting climate change and adapting to its effects. The year also marked the foundation of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Science-based targets show how much and how quickly businesses need to reduce their GHG emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, creating a path towards decarbonization. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that global warming must not exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. In order to achieve this target, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must decrease by about 45% by 2030 (2010 baseline) and reach net zero by 2050. Sustainability criteria and their impact Sustainability is evaluated using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors: The Environmental category focuses on the impact a company has on the environment, e.g., Scopes 1-3 GHG emissions, resource and waste management, water use and conservation, the share of renewables in the energy mix, etc. The Social category considers the social impact a company has within society, as well as whether and how it advocates for social good and change. Indicators relate to stances and efforts on social issues including racial and gender diversity and inclusion, employee development, human rights, operational health and safety, stakeholder, and community engagement, etc. The Governance category refers to the ways a company is managed, or “governed”, to address issues and drive positive change. Indicators in this category include quality and diversity of management and the board, executive compensation, corporate ethics, transparency and disclosure, corporate political contributions, etc. These three categories allow companies to create a holistic approach for business strategies, risk mitigation, and reporting. Investors are also increasingly turning to ESG investing, which incorporates these factors into investment decisions, spurred by growing evidence that ESG integration in business decisions has a positive impact: 57 percent of executives and investment professionals in McKinsey’s Global Survey agree that ESG programs create shareholder value, and 83 percent believe that these programs will create even more value by 2025. Respondents also indicated they would be willing to pay a premium to acquire companies with a positive ESG record. In Accenture’s 2020 report titled “Seeking Responsible Leadership”, 2,540 publicly listed companies were examined between 2015 and 2018. Results show that companies that combine high levels of innovation with sustainability and trust outperform their industry peers, with 3.1% higher operating profits and greater returns to shareholders. S&P Global Market Intelligence analyzed 26 ESG exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, with more than $250 million in assets under management, between March 2020 and March 2021. 19 of those funds performed better than the S&P 500. Outperformers rose between 27.3% and 55% over that period, while the S&P increased 27.1%. On the other hand, companies that are seen as not making enough efforts on ESG issues are facing mounting pressure from stakeholders, and operational consequences: Two shareholders in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) filed an application in the Federal Court of Australia in August 2021 seeking access to all documents created by the CBA in relation to the bank’s reported involvement in seven specified gas and fossil fuel projects. It is anticipated that the plaintiffs may bring a substantive claim against CBA if the documents produced demonstrate that the projects did not satisfy CBA’s Environmental & Social Policy. In May 2022, both ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two largest US oil companies, suffered shareholder rebellions led by climate activities and disgruntled institutional investors over their failure to set a strategy for a low-carbon future. This comes one year after a court in The Hague ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 (2019 baseline), in a landmark case brought by the environmental organization Friends of the Earth and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs. Also in May 2022, nearly half of Berkshire Hathaway’s independent investors rejected the advice of the board led by chairman and CEO Warren Buffet, instead supporting proposals requesting climate-change-related reports and reporting on Berkshire’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Collaboration is essential Some companies have gone beyond their own operations and are trying to catalyze ESG efforts not only along the value chain, but also for whole industries. For example, in 2015, Apple launched the Supplier Clean Energy Program, which allows the company to not only share resources and training material on renewables but also to participate in clean energy investments by suppliers. In November 2021, Schneider Electric announced a collaboration in the same field with 10 global pharmaceutical companies, namely AstraZeneca, Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, MSD, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda. The new program, called Energize, will give suppliers of these companies the opportunity to participate in the market for power purchase agreements. Other companies have partnered with banks to link supply chain financing to ESG assessments. Henkel and Deutsche Bank announced such a partnership in May 2022, creating incentives for suppliers who can lower their costs by improving their ESG rating. Finally, various initiatives, whether sector-specific or not, have been able to gather pledges and commitments towards different targets. RE100, for example, brings together some of the largest companies in the world that are committed to 100% renewable electricity. Race to Zero is the UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors to take rigorous and immediate action. As part of the Race to Zero Breakthroughs: Retail Campaign, companies such as Best Buy, H&M Group, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kingfisher Plc, and Walmart have pledged their support to accelerate a movement in the retail industry to drive climate action and encourage other retailers to set out their plans to achieve 1.5 degree aligned carbon reduction targets. By raising awareness and engaging several stakeholders, these efforts—whether through incentives, resource and knowledge sharing, or other means—are important steps on the path to sustainability. In 2021, the first publication from the IPCC’s sixth assessment showed that the world will probably reach or exceed 1.5 °C of warming within just the next two decades. If emissions aren't slashed in the next few years, this will happen even earlier. Whether we limit warming to this level and prevent the most severe climate impacts depends on actions taken now. Jihane Benazzouz Sources:

March 02 2021 | Business Strategy
Is the race for unicorns, a rightful race for African tech startups?

With a valuation of around $1 billion at IPO, Jumia’s listing in 2019 in the New York Stock Exchange has confirmed Africa’s first ‘now failed’ unicorn. The term ‘’unicorn’’ was coined in 2013 by Aileen Lee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, to describe a privately held, fast-growing startup. In detail, a unicorn refers to a technology non-listed company, in place for less than 10 years with a valuation greater than or equal to $1 billion. Initially, the term has been used to emphasize the rarity of these startups as only.07 percent of venture-backed startups were able to reach that valuation in a decade or less. Yet, amid an increase in the numbers of startups coupled with an influx of investments, the number of unicorns has significantly increased. To give an illustration, while it took more than four years for the number of unicorns to grew to 250, this number has doubled in the past two years. In Europe alone, the number of billion-dollar companies has almost quadrupled since 2014 with a total value of $ 416 bn, almost five the valuation in 2014.  In 2020, despite the economic repercussions of Covid-19, a total of 89 companies gained unicorn status globally, many of which operate in the e-commerce and health care sectors. In other words, what was initially a club of 39, now counts more than 500 members. According to CB Insights and as of January 2021, there are 537 unicorns around the world with a total value of $ 1 636.18 bn. The USA and China are home countries for ~ 70% of global unicorns.  Now, what about Africa?  With a maturing technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem emerging across Africa, investors’ interest in the African tech ecosystem remained strong in 2020, despite the implications of the health crisis of Covid-19.   According to the sixth edition of the annual African Tech Startups Funding Report, 2020 released by startup news and research portal Disrupt Africa, 2020 was a record year for investment into the African startup ecosystem. The report points out that a total of 397 African Startups have raised a fund equivalent to US$701.5 million in the same year, attesting to an increase of 42.7 percent over 2019, compared to $334.5 million raised in 2018.  Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa stand out as the main destinations of capital with 89.2% of the total amount of funds invested on the continent and account the vast majority (77%) of the deals concluded.   While surpassing the $700 million mark in funding is lauded by many watchers of the African Tech space, this “achievement” is maybe not significant enough to compensate for the fact that in a global context Africa is still lagging behind, in terms of funds received.  It is believed that unicorns indicate a venture capital ecosystem that is ripe for investment, with very few African unicorns it is then safe to assume that investors’ confidence in Africa is not yet matured enough to allow them to give an African startup a $1 billion valuation.  According to CB Insights, Africa has generated zero unicorn in the past 2 years. In 2018, only three African unicorns have made it to the list.  These three unicorns are Nigeria-based Africa Internet Group (Jumia), South Africa- based Promasidor, and South Africa- based Cell-C.  Founded in Lagos in 2012, Jumia operates multiple online verticals across Africa. In 2016 the company became the first African startup unicorn, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding that included Goldman Sachs, AXA, Rocket Internet, and MTN.  In April 2019, the African e-commerce giant became the first African unicorn to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On its opening day, the shares have traded at $14.50, valuing the company at $1.1 Bn. Shortly afterward, the shares have peaked at $49.77, valuing the company at nearly $3.8 billion.  However, and in light of allegations of fraud and concealed losses, among others, Jumia’s shares sunk hitting an all-time low to the $2 range in the following 12 months of its IPO. This has been said, Jumia serves as a good reminder that unicorn status does not protect a company from a sudden drop in its value nor is a guarantee of the performance of the company.  For some African investors and startup owners, the African ecosystem is unparalleled internationally, as it comes with its own complexity and challenges,  hence the ambiguity of forcing international success examples on it. They suggest instead letting African startups come up with their own success metrics that would better translate to the African marketplace. As explained by Xavier Helgesen, in markets where there is a venture capital shortage, macroeconomic uncertainty, a lower tolerance for risk, less acceptance of entrepreneurship as a career, or limited enabling infrastructures and policies, the Silicon Valley model fails. He goes on to suggest that instead of African companies striving to become the likes of Silicon Valley unicorns, they should instead focus on raising camels- organizations that can capitalize on the opportunity but also can survive on drought.  The same idea has been reiterated by the Senegalese Venture capitalist Marième Diop. Silicon valley’s unicorn IPO model might not be right for African startups as these, face a vastly different macro business environment. Mrs. Diop suggested lowering revenue expectations and have African startups list on local exchanges to raise capital from IPOs. In this way, Africa can count more “gazelles” than unicorns “abroad”.  A gazelle at home could be a company valued at $100 million or more and generating revenues of $15 to $50 million, according to Diop. In conclusion, be it unicorns, camels, or gazelles, African startups need to take advantage of the opportunities currently present to them (e.g. the rise in digitization, the increase in investment funds,…) and rewrite the rules to better align with their reality.  Again, while African countries can use international benchmarks for inspiration, they should maybe refrain from making them a blueprint for future developments. Nouha Abardazzou - Senior Associate Sources:

November 30 2020 | Business Strategy, Economics
Covid-19 Impact on the Real estate Market – UAE

The real estate market in the United Arab Emirates features some unique attributes compared to its equivalents in the other countries of the region. This is mainly because UAE is a temporary home for a vast number of expats compared to the nationals which in turn affects their preferences and consideration when it comes to choosing a residential place. For example, while it is a common practice for residents of the region to think of buying an apartment as an investment hedge against inflation or as an asset for the future generation, this is not very common in the UAE since expats believe that sooner or later they will leave the country and go back to their home country and also other main factor that the residential supply is not all accessible to buy by foreigners, the property ownership for expats is available in two categories leasehold and freehold in certain regions. These factors affect the demand in the country in general. Even before the pandemic, the oversupply in Dubai & Abu Dhabi has posed a threat to the prices in the real estate sector whether in the residential sector or the office sector. According to a report by Deloitte, average sales prices for residential property in Dubai declined by approximately 7% between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019. Average rents also declined by approximately 9% over the same period, as the average price per square feet for apartments fell from AED 1,178 in 2018 to AED 1,090 as of September 2019. Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, there was an average slump of 8.7% over a 12-month period with villa rents falling by 8.4%. Has the sector been affected so far? The oversupply problem in UAE and especially Dubai worsened with the spread of COVID-19. In February 2020, Knight Franck stated that a total of 62,500 residential units are scheduled to be completed this year, which would be the biggest number of new units since 2008. In addition, Moody’s assumed that it is expected the pandemic to further slow home sales and lower rental prices in a market that was still suffering from persistent imbalances. According to real estate and investment management firm JLL, the UAE’s property market continues to be tenant-friendly in Q3 2020. The residential sector recorded an increase in construction activity with around 12,000 units handed over in Dubai and 600 units handed over in Abu Dhabi, JLL expects developers to continue offering a range of incentives and subsidies such as fee waivers, discounts, rent-to-own, as well as partnerships with banks to attract new investors and end-users looking to take advantage of the lower prices. In the UAE, homeowners have become more optimistic on the outlook for residential real estate in the coming 12 months as per the Peninsula sentiment survey. At the end of Q3 2020, 50% of homeowners responding to the survey reported that they expect home prices to be stable or increase in the next 12 months. Sensibly up from the 41% recorded only one trimester before. In particular, 33% of UAE homeowners expressed their belief that home prices will increase in the next 12 months, up from only 11% of respondents in Q2. Trend after the Pandemic: In the unpredictable times of Covid-19, both optimistic and pessimistic outlooks were shared on how pandemic will shape the real estate industry in the UAE. However, both types of projections asserted that modernity and inclusivity will be part of the new trend in the sector. Especially with the crisis due to the excess of offer, taking into account the below insights could help the developers to stand out from the competition: A. Renters/buyers will prioritize mixed-use developments when thinking of renting/buying an apartment Residents are now more prone to choose an apartment in a place where there is a mix of commercial and educational facilities to avoid going to crowded places. B. Renters/buyers will refurbish their tastes when it comes to renting/buying an apartment The pandemic has forced many people to work from their homes, which then need changed from the pre-Covid setup. For example, more and more people would now choose homes that are soundproof or that have a space for exercising. C. Residents will opt for lower density properties Covid-19 brought out the risk that high-density property could have on residents. Hence, it is believed that developers will start considering designs that maintain new distancing standards. D. On a medium- long term, the preference of a well-aired office space will be on the rise According to CBRE, buildings are currently required to comply with a minimum of 20% fresh air intake, while some choose to exceed this requirement by going up to 30%. However, this is bound to change as businesses will prioritize office spaces with good indoor air quality and ventilation. Loay Sherine - Senior Analyst Sources:

November 10 2020 | Business Strategy
The Impact of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean

The COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented challenge for the global economy. Countries are leveraging all resources available to deploy response measures in order to mitigate the economic, financial, social and health crises caused by the spread of the virus, while at the same time, experimenting with different measures to control its spread and save as many lives as possible. While a lot of attention is, and must be, put in analyzing how governments are reacting today in order to learn how to better react in the face of a similar crisis sometime in the future, the crisis also demands a question: why are some countries responding better than others?. The hard reality is that not all countries are facing the crisis from the same starting point. Developed countries are in a better position to face the different dimensions of the crisis due, to a large extent, to their available fiscal and healthcare resources. No country in the LAC region can afford the increases in public spending and investment carried out by developed countries in response to the pandemic, nor do they have the same access to international financing. Developing regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) must face large trade-offs when deciding where to allocate their available resources to respond to the effects of the crisis. Moreover, these tradeoffs are accentuated by the structural social inequality faced across the region.  However, these limitations and conditions were not directly caused by the crisis that began at the start of the year, but rather the result of decades of policies that have created economies heavily burdened by social and economic vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are a crucial factor when determining the region’s starting point in the face of the pandemic, the extent of the social and economic impacts, and its capacity to respond. Projected impacts on the LAC economy and growth As of January 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) had projected GDP growth rates of 1.6% for 2020, and further 2.3% for 2021. However, these projections have drastically changed because of the crisis brought by the coronavirus pandemic. While the containment measures taken by LAC countries are bound to have an impact on their overall GDP growth, the uncertainty of how the pandemic will evolve, and how each country will respond, make estimations a very difficult exercise. The projections from the June 2020 IMF World Economic Outlook indicate that Real GDP growth in Latin American and the Caribbean is estimated at -9.4% in 2020 but will return to a 3.7% growth in 2021. The 2 largest economies in the region, Brazil and Mexico will experience similar trend. These projections are vastly different from the estimations done earlier in April 2020. [caption id="attachment_5426" align="aligncenter" width="607"] Source: IMF World Economic Outlook June 2020.[/caption] These projections consider several key assumptions. For instance, the forecast factors a larger hit to activity due to the lockdowns in the first half of 2020, and a slower recovery in the 2nd half of the year compared to what was estimated during the April 2020 estimations. Productivity will be impacted as surviving businesses focus on improving workplace safety and hygiene standards. Countries struggling to control infection rates will need to extend the lockdown and social distancing measures. On the other hand, countries that have controlled infection rates will not reinstate stringent lockdowns and will rather rely on more targeted measures (i.e. contact tracing, isolation, etc.). The projections also factor in the impact of the fiscal countermeasures implemented so far and anticipated of the rest of the year. The model also assumes that fuel prices are expected to remain broadly unchanged compared to the April 2020 version of the economic outlook, with average petroleum spot prices at $36.20 per barrel in 2020 and $37.50 in 2020, with expectations of an increase up to $46 (25% below the 2019 average). Nonfuel commodity prices are expected to rise faster than what was assumed in the April projections. During October, the IMF released its update with new growth projections, showing that the economic impacts of the pandemic are hard to estimate. The new projections show more positive scenario for the region and its 2 largest economies in 2020, but with slightly lower growth estimates in 2021 for the region and Brazil. We will likely see further changes in these projections as countries enter the year 2021, and actual figures for full-year 2020 become available. [caption id="attachment_5428" align="aligncenter" width="552"] Source: Source: IMF World Economic Outlook October 2020[/caption] Earlier during April 2020, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) developed a model depicting 4 shock scenarios for the region, taking into account external factors such as: GDP losses in the US and China, with some recovery towards the end of 2020 and into 2021; asset price shocks and their impact in financial markets and capital flows; and commodity prices for oil, metal and agricultural products. The variables were chosen by the key assumption that the shock from the crisis is external, so no internal impact from the measures taken by the countries was considered for the model. While the quantitative estimations might be outdated when compared to the IMF World Outlook projections, the different variables used for the model give some insight on how the crisis can impact countries and sub-regions differently. For example, low oil prices will have negative impact on major oil exporters such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, while low metal prices will affect exporters such as Chile and Peru. While metal and oil prices do not tend to affect employment or consumption, they do have a large impact in public revenues, output, and investment. On the other hand, the prices on agricultural products affect employment, consumption, and public revenues (i.e.  export taxes).   Source: IADB As per the IADB projections, the LAC region will lose between 6.3% and 14.4% of its’ GDP during the 2020-22 period. The Southern Cone will be impacted mostly by commodity prices, but the dislocation of financial markets will also have a relevant impact, since countries in the sub-region tend to be financially integrated. For the Andean region, the impact might seem low at sub-regional level, but specific cases might vary per country. Ecuador, as an oil exporter, will be impacted by the low prices and its financing needs, and it cannot use the exchange rate to absorb the shock because its economy is dollarized. A similar case might be observed for Colombia, which is an oil exporter that normally attracts foreign investments to finance current account deficits. Peru, on the other hand, will be impacted by copper prices, but has relatively low debt and good access to capital markets. Mexico is also expected to suffer severe GDP losses, mainly because of its trade dependence with the US, globally integrated value chains and low oil prices. Central American and Caribbean countries can benefit from low oil prices, as they are mostly oil importers, but their GDP losses are mainly caused by the high dependence on the US for tourism revenues and remittances. In 2018, North America accounted for 69% of tourists in the Caribbean. Due to the current and expected travel restrictions, tourism in the Caribbean is expected to contract by 25%. Tourism represents 15.5% of the GDP in the Caribbean region, but the range of dependency varies greatly per country, as tourism expenditures represent 75% of Aruba’s GDP, compared to 4% for Trinidad & Tobago. The impact will also be felt directly in employment and household incomes, as the sector employs 2.4 million people in the Caribbean region. [caption id="attachment_5433" align="aligncenter" width="618"] Source: UN-ECLAC Statistics[/caption] Impact on Trade Moreover, the pandemic will also have an impact on the already weak international trade prospects for the region, additional to decrease impact in commodity prices. The first phase of the US-China agreement in January, on which China pledged to increase its importance from the US by at least $77 billion in 2020, could potentially displace LAC as a trade partner for China in some product categories. It is estimated that the value of LAC’s goods exports will be reduced by at least 10.7% by 2020, due to both a fall of 8.2% in prices and a 2.5% fall in export volumes. [caption id="attachment_5436" align="aligncenter" width="1011"] Source: UN-ECLAC[/caption] Note: The following growth rates are assumed for 2020: 1.0% (world), 1.0% (United States), 0.3% (Japan), 0.5% (United Kingdom), -0.2% (European Union, 27 countries), 3.0% (China) and -1.8% (Latin America and the Caribbean), plus an average reduction of 16% in the region’s commodity export basket. The greatest impact will be felt by the countries of South America, which specialize in the export of commodities, making them more vulnerable to a decrease in prices. In contrast, the value of exports from Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico would decrease less than the regional average due to their links with the US and their lower dependence on commodity exports. However, oil-exporting countries are expected to see the largest decrease in value. The COVID-19 crisis may also have an impact on the region’s export performance because of its effect on imports used to produce exports.  Some of the most affected countries will be Mexico and Chile, which receive 7% of their intermediate inputs from China, followed by Colombia and Peru, which import ~ 5% of their intermediate inputs from China. Regional exports to China are expected to fall the most in 2020 (-21.7%), affecting products with linkages in the value chains within China (iron ore, copper ore, zinc, aluminum, soybeans, soybean oil, etc.). The most exposed countries in the region are Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru, which are the region’s largest suppliers of such products to China. [caption id="attachment_5437" align="aligncenter" width="981"] Source: UN-ECLAC Statistics[/caption] Note: The following growth rates are assumed for 2020: 1.0% (world), 1.0% (United States), 0.3% (Japan), 0.5% (United Kingdom), -0.2% (European Union, 27 countries), 3.0% (China) and -1.8% (Latin America and the Caribbean), plus an average reduction of 16% in the region’s commodity export basket. Regional exports to the US (-7.1%) and the European Union (-8.9%) are also expected to decrease to a lesser extent. Mexico is the country most exposed to changes in supply and demand conditions in the US, especially in the manufacturing sector. Costa Rica is also highly exposed to economic conditions in the US, as about 10% of its GDP depends on the United States supply and demand. The countries most exposed to changes in supply and demand conditions in the European Union are Chile, Mexico, and Brazil, as around 5% of their GDP depends on the service and manufacturing sectors. Impact on Poverty and Employment Given the region’s economic and social inequalities, the effects of the pandemic will disproportionally affect the poor vulnerable middle-income segments of the population. This will lead to an increase in informal employment and child labor, as the most vulnerable families will have to rely on these for survival. Poverty in the region had already increased during 2014-2018, and the effects of the pandemic are very likely to increase the poverty and extreme poverty rates. According to ECLAC estimations, if the effects of the pandemic lead to a 5% loss of income for the economically active population, the poverty rate can increase by 3.5 percentage points, while extreme poverty is expected to rise by 2.3 percentage points during 2019-2020, compared to an increase of 0.3 and 0.7 percentage points change respectively in the previous year. [caption id="attachment_5438" align="aligncenter" width="597"] Source: UN-ECLAC[/caption] People employed by micro, small or medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are a very vulnerable segment. Almost 99% of companies in the LAC region are MSMEs, and these represent the majority of companies in almost all economic sectors. The temporary shutdown measures and restrictions on economic activities will lead to a significant decrease in sales revenues, putting the survival of these companies at risk. The economic impact numerous bankruptcies and closures MSMEs will have large social cost, given that these companies accounted for 61.1% of total employment in the region in 2016. Regional Context LAC governments face significant constraints in terms of their capacity to fight the effects of the pandemic. These constraints are not necessarily new, neither have they been caused by the pandemic. Rather, the pandemic has exhibited the many deficiencies in the institutional capacity of LAC countries due to decades of development policies that were not conductive to create sustainable and resilient economies. The results of this are, to varying extents among countries, economies heavily burdened by dire fiscal spaces, and gaps in access to basic services. Fiscal Space The LAC region presents a weak fiscal situation. No country in the region can afford the increases in spending carried out by developed countries to mitigate the impacts of the crisis. On average, public debt represented 62% of the GDP in 2019, compared to 40% of GDP in 2008. The high levels of debt will limit the response capacities of countries, and these will greatly vary as the levels of debt are very different between them. In 2009, the region was able to respond to the international crisis with an average fiscal expansion of 3% of GDP. At the current debt levels, the response capacity today would be approximately 1.5% of GDP. [caption id="attachment_5439" align="aligncenter" width="567"] Source: IADB & IMF[/caption] Moreover, the region’s capacity to access financing has also been affected by the crisis.  According to data from the Emerging Markets Bond Index (EMBI), the cost of borrowing in for LAC countries doubled between January and March 2020. The region pays on average 700 basis points for external credit, but this varies between countries. Countries like Brazil and Chile can still access international credit at higher but “reasonable” rates, while for countries like Argentina and Costa Rica, the costs are so high that this is no longer a viable option. [caption id="attachment_5440" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Source: IADB with data from IMF and Bloomberg[/caption] Supporting Infrastructure: Internet, Healthcare & Social security Digital technologies have enabled a transition to work-from-home and study/learning-from home, reducing the impact on some economic activities and education. Although more than 67% of LAC’s population had access to internet in 2019, there are big differences in terms of access between countries. While +80% of the population has access to internet in countries like Bermuda, Aruba and Chile, this percentage drops below 50% in Peru and as low as 12% in Haiti. This is without considering the sub-national disparities between rural and urban populations, as well as income segments within each country, regarding access to internet. [caption id="attachment_5442" align="aligncenter" width="1043"] Source: World Bank[/caption] As for health services, the capacity of health systems in the region varies greatly between countries. The region’s government spending in health was 2.2% of GDP in 2018, far below the 6% of GDP recommended by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  In 2016, out-of-pocket health expenditure by households as a proportion of total current health expenditure in Latin America and the Caribbean (37.6%) was more than double that of the European Union (15.7%), and participation in health insurance plans for employed people aged 15 years and older was only 57.3%. [caption id="attachment_5445" align="aligncenter" width="334"] Source: World Bank[/caption] The LAC region has a serious deficit in hospital beds, including those in in- tensive care units (ICUs), and medical personnel (doctors, nurses, and others). In OECD countries, there are 3.5 doctors and 9.8 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, whereas the comparable figures for LAC countries are 1.8 doctors and 4.4 nurses. Source: UN-ECLAC Statistics Moreover, health services in the region tend to be inadequate and not entirely accessible. In line with the low spending on healthcare, public services tend to be of varying quality, and private healthcare services are only available for those who can afford them. Furthermore, specialized healthcare services and physicians are mostly concentrated in key urban centers, making their access and affordability challenging for the low-income segments of the population. Social protection systems in LAC will also face several issues, especially for countries with limited fiscal space. While these were already inadequate before the crisis, social protection systems will face several issues affecting their capacity to respond to the pandemic. The region faces high rates of employment informality, with a regional average of more than 50% in 2017, limiting the access to social protection services and benefits. Only a few countries in the region have unemployment benefits. In 2019, only 6 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay) had employment insurance for formal sector workers. Contributory social protection systems will face very high demands of sick leave benefits by workers, and the tax funded non-contributory social protection programs, which are normally designed to support the ported segments of the population, will need to be extended to cover low income families at risk of falling into poverty.   Policy recommendations The pandemic has put countries in a situation on which they face 2 simultaneous crises: a health crisis, and an economic crisis. Given the limited fiscal space and costly access to finance for some countries in the LAC region., the response options are very limited. The link between the health and pandemic impacts will have governments juggle between different key objectives. In the short term, the implementation of lockdowns, people movement restrictions and other social distancing measures are the most effective ways to fight the spread of the virus and control its mortality. However, general lockdowns also increase unemployment, declines in salaries, and increases poverty. Governments do not have the fiscal resources to compensate the sectors affected by the pandemic. Therefore, governments must prioritize resource allocation. Naturally, allocating resources to one sector will reduce the resources available for another. The social context of the region will augment this tension. For instance, many households in the region were already poor before the pandemic, and any decrease in their income will put their survival at risk. On the other hand, households in the vulnerable middle class proportionally suffered the steepest decline on their incomes, so it will not be easy to balance the support given to both segments. At the same time, governments must balance between supporting the sectors most affected by the pandemic (hotels, restaurants, etc.) and the workers of the many other sectors that will also be affected. Typical support measures, such as cash transfers, will not be sustainable for extended periods of time, even in countries with greater fiscal resources. The current social support programs implemented by some countries in the region have limitations due to their design. These typically target segments classified withing structural poverty and are not designed to target vulnerable groups that are going through the transitory poverty caused by the pandemic. While the specific measures will vary per country, according to their available resources, there are several recommendations that can be followed to tackle both crises.:   A commensurate fiscal stimulus is needed to support health services and protect incomes and jobs. Countries must guarantee the supply of essential goods, such as medicines, medical equipment, food and energy, as well as universal access to testing and health care services. Health spending must be a priority, especially in countries with limited budgets. During the confinement period, resources must be focused on increasing the response capacity of the health system and expanding testing capacity. Mass targeted testing could be used to control infection rates among vulnerable populations. Focus mass testing efforts in targeted regions and hotpots on which the most vulnerable populations (i.e. those more pressed to go back to work, those most vulnerable or exposed to the virus) are concentrated. Serological tests would be the most efficient for this testing method on the LAC region, given that they are cheaper and do not require complicated technology. Social protection systems need to be strengthened to support vulnerable populations. Countries need to expand non-contributory programs, such as direct cash transfers, unemployment, underemployment, and self-employment benefits aimed at vulnerable population segments. Leverage and adjust already existing programs. Some countries in the region already had cash transfer programs in place before the crisis, which could be expanded and adjusted with new targeting instruments to cover poor and vulnerable population segments. Using alternative sources of data to identify vulnerable households, such as electricity consumption, application of employment benefits, or data from recent household censuses, can be used to identify priority targets. Housing crisis and massive business closures can be avoided by enabling mortgage and rent payment deferrals. Government should also consider deferring payments of basic services such as of water, electricity, and internet bills for low-income people for the duration of the pandemic. Central banks must ensure firms’ liquidity to ensure their operations can be carried out and the stability of the financial system. Central banks should intervene directly to provide the liquidity needed by the private sector. Prevent the collapse of the financial system by extending guarantees and credits to the banking sectors and other businesses whose closure would put financial stability at risk. While this measure will affect resources available for other interventions, it will benefit companies and economic sectors not benefited directly by other policies. Avoid the bankruptcy of businesses and minimize the decline in formal employment. Governments can extend loans and guarantees to businesses to provide liquidity. Temporarily suspend (moratorium) or reduce payments of taxes, mandatory contributions (except health insurance) and other regulations that increase the cost of production. Make the necessary legislative reforms to allow companies to temporarily reduce employment costs without permanent layoffs, such as temporary reduction of working hours and salaries. Immediate support should be provided to workers in MSMEs, low-income workers and those in the informal sector. International cooperation and multilateral organizations should design new technical and financial instruments to support countries facing fiscal pressures. They should also consider offering low-interest loans and debt relief and deferrals to open fiscal space. Multilateral institutions can go beyond financial support and provide technical assistance, by leveraging their areas of expertise and support networks, to help countries drat their response plans and their sequencing over time, and offer support in cross-cutting areas, such as big data and artificial intelligence to facilitate tracing, among other areas. Lift the sanctions on countries that are subject to them so they can have access to food, medical assistance and supplies, and COVID-19 tests. Ensure coordinated management of the response to the crisis. It is imperative that governments create high-level coordination mechanisms, especially given the multi-level government system in some countries, to establish and monitor goals and timeframes, allocate resources, and organize communication about the crisis. Ensure continuous and transparent communication with the general population, private sector, minorities, especially regarding the efficient and effective use of resources to fight the pandemic, to ensure public support and collaboration in the different measures. Conclusions While countries are already fighting the pandemic with using some and other policy measures, no response will be perfect. Governments will most likely have to implement and sustain multiple measures at a given time, by leveraging their available resources, and implement adjustments based on the results over time. The crisis was certainly unpredictable, but as mentioned before, it has exhibited the many deficiencies in the economic and social systems developed by Latin American countries in previous decades. While countries must focus on fighting the pandemic today, once the crisis is over (hopefully soon), countries must look back to the past and rethink their development models to re-commence addressing the challenges that they have been dragging for decades, such as high levels of informality, poverty, untransparent fiscal management, access of basic services and build resilient and sustainable economies for the future. Jesus Cazares - Senior Research Associate Sources: IADB IADB UN-ECLAC UN-ECLAC IMF June 2020 Economic Outlook: IMF October 2020 Economic Outlook: World Bank  

November 04 2020 | Business Strategy
How can crisis management under COVID-19, shed light on the differences between family-owned and non-family businesses?

With the long-term implications of the global coronavirus pandemic, crisis management is being put under the spotlight on all levels, from households to companies, different institutions, and governments. Amid the crisis, governments began to mobilize their economies on several fronts including closure, economic, and healthcare policies; to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic. Zooming in on businesses, we’ve seen through the news, reports, and most importantly regulations how they’ve been impacted differently based on their sectors, as well as size; but can their type of ownership play a role in the effects of COVID-19 on businesses? In this blog we’ll be looking at family vs non-family-owned businesses, shedding light on the differentiating factors at the core of this split that echoes in times of crisis management, allowing us to underline the contrasting coping measures.  Interestingly, family-owned businesses have received less media coverage than non-family; while according to the Family Firm Institute, family businesses account for 2/3 of all businesses across countries, generating between 70-90% of global GDP and creating 50-80% of the jobs around the world. Organizational differences between family and non-family businesses First and foremost, the significant and particular influence of family governance represents a distinctive difference between family-owned and non-family businesses that should be considered. Ownership among those families is strongly related to a psychological experience, which results from years of investing in the business’ governance. By integrating the business life into their families, the fate of the employees, customers, and surrounding communities becomes linked to its success. Family governance is associated with a series of values, among which are collectivism, altruism, trust, identification, loyalty, and commitment. Another distinguishing factor between both ownership models is that more often than not family owners admit having a business purpose related to the pursuit of non-financial goals; versus non-family owners who measure their organization’s success through its financial performance. The latter supports another core value at the heart of family businesses which is the valued labor relations. To illustrate this better, in the US, you can find many family businesses with greater employee benefits, than big non-family businesses or unions. For example, the In-N-Out Burger chain offers its part- and full-time employees, benefits that include the 401(k) plan of retirement, paid vacations, dental and vision coverage; which is a rare package in the fast-food industry. Employees are often treated like family and find the needed support on personal matters such as family members’ medical bills or funeral expenses. With this emotional attachment to the firm, families tend to have an observation period towards the long-term future more often than the short-term; showing a commitment to the family legacy and its core values. The main objective is to then secure the survival of the firm and succeeding in the uninterrupted family succession project. This approach is frequently referred to as the zoom in/zoom out approach which focuses on iterating between two parallel time perspectives. Firstly, the zoom-out perspective consisting of 10 to 12 years; then the zoom in perspective where the scope is limited to 6 to 12 months. In adopting this approach, families believe that by getting both horizons right, everything else in between will fall in its place. Conversely, the traditional non-family approach usually adopted is the strategic 5-year planning; which is a time frame that belongs to the period in-between when relating it to the zoom-in/zoom-out strategy. Now that we’ve seen some core differences, how is family vs non-family crisis management affected based on the different business models? How family-owned businesses are managing the COVID-19 crisis effectively? Based on Harvard Business Review’s definition, crisis management is the process of adapting  oversight of the enterprise under conditions of extreme uncertainty in order to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned around the firm’s long-term vision, values, expected financial outcomes, and risk management measures. With the COVID-19 pandemic, few studies, mostly qualitative, have been conducted surveying European family businesses, different in size and sectors to evaluate their coping mechanism vis-à-vis the current crisis. All surveyed family-owned companies underlined the extent to which the families are prioritizing governance as a necessary service to get them through this period. In fact, maintaining the solidarity and commitment of family members is as important as the continuity of the business. The latter is as effective as proactive crisis management and effective leadership. Family businesses’ crisis management is centered around 5 main factors that are: safeguarding liquidity, operations, communication, business models, and organizational culture. Under a crisis, maintaining an adequate level of liquidity is one of the main stressors families have to manage, on one side; while the pursuit of their business operation becomes more critical than any other time. To begin with the importance of liquidity, some of the favored measures were reducing profits, including executive compensations and dividends, instead of laying off their employees. Secondly, in regards of safeguarding their operations, some of the measures taken by families were reduced social contacts, closing meeting rooms, cafeteria and spreading awareness amongst their employees. Layoffs were hardly mentioned by the family owners as a measure taken at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, families commonly involve employees in finding alternatives that would reduce the firms fixed costs. The third important factor that is crucial in crisis management is safeguarding the communication with employees, customers, and suppliers, even with social distancing. Studies have shown that family-owned employees have mainly 2 fears: one being the consequences which COVID-19 can have on their friends/families and the second being the inevitable economic impact on the firm, as they fear losing their jobs. Family members, then, dealt with the latter through extensive and proactive communication, for example, a German manufacturing company and an Austrian services company communicated their 700 and 15 employees, respectively via WhatsApp messages; while other European companies relied on FAQs on their websites, communication through email, blogs/podcasts, service hotlines or daily newsletters by their CEO written personally to their employees. On the other hand, the biggest challenge when it came to customers, was keeping a personal communication during a time where digital channels are the only ones that can be used. However, it is worth noting that with COVID-19 the general acceptance of digitization has increased, even among late adopting customers. The fourth factor revolves around the firm’s business models that are challenged in times of crisis like COVID-19, at different levels based on the sector of activity. Some family owners found it more suitable to adapt within the same business model; while others found it unavoidable to consider new ones. For example, a family business in hospitality has lost over 80% of its revenue streams but found an opportunity in the increasing demand for toilet paper and used their unoccupied spaces to sell them and generate revenue. Another case of a clothing company where mask production presented itself as an opportunity and production was changed accordingly. Other companies digitalized their workshops and started to include only digital meetings in their standard price offering, charging an additional cost for an on-site consultation. Finally, in family-run businesses, core values remain intact supporting the organizational resilience by yielding both, stability and direction during times of high uncertainty and volatility; which brings us to the last factor of crisis management that is culture. The pandemic has been creating a strong feeling of solidarity among the different stakeholders including employees and suppliers driven by the idea of facing the crisis together. For instance, many family firms have underlined the manifestation of employees’ commitment seen through an increase in motivation, teamwork, and cohesion. In addition to the latter, an increased acceptance towards digitization has been shown among the older employees, as well as others, such as cooks in restaurants who still took orders by hand. To conclude, the differences at the core of the family-owned businesses, especially when it comes to the owners’ emotional attachment to the firm, as well as the non-financial goals are what stem different reactions and crisis management approaches than non-family owners of companies. We can see through this example the importance of crisis management and how it extends to the core values and culture an entity holds. Farida Rehab - Business Analyst Sources:

October 13 2020 | Technology, Business Strategy
Cybersecurity: Assuring the future of organizations in the post-COVID era

The increase in Cyberattacks incidents is common in times of crises and 2008’s worldwide economic recession is the most recent proof. From Heartland’s biggest credit card scam in history to Virginia’s prescription monitoring hack, the 2008 economic recession has witnessed a considerable increase in breaches and cybercrimes. As recorded by the Financial Fraud Action (UK), online banking fraud was peaking in 2009 at £59.7 million before falling in 2011 to £35.4 million. While it is remarked that history repeats itself, the COVID-19 era is no exception. Today’s reality is dominated by remote work that introduced businesses to a new level of dependency on digital collaboration tools. In this context, while authorities focused their efforts mainly on fighting the spread of the virus and improve their healthcare systems, IT professionals are concerned about assuring the environments’ security during this transition. In fact, based on Fugue’s survey on the state of cloud security published in April 2020, 84% of security professionals are worried that their institution has already faced a breach during the transition. This explains why despite the worldwide decline in job opening, countries such as the US and UK saw a rise in requests for information security roles. In terms of numbers, reported cybercrimes are already registering a steep rise and unprepared tools have experienced some of the world’s biggest breaches. ZOOM, the videotelephony software program, had 500,000 personal URLs and information sold on the dark web. Also, a hacker sold 115M personal data belonging to customers of a Pakistani mobile operator for $2.1M in bitcoin. These are just examples of breaches that can severely affect the public. From the visible side of the iceberg, the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI announced a 300% increase in registered cybercrimes in five months, that jumped from 1,000 to 3,000 complaints per day. Additionally, the US Department of Health and Human Services stated that there have been 132 breaches this year (February to May) which is an equivalent of almost 50% increase compared to last year’s reported cases. Google, from its end, is currently preventing, over 18M COVID-19 related email scams and 240M spam messages on a daily basis. As Trend Micro confirms, malicious spam emails are the most considerable share of cyberattacks (up to 65.7%) and the top countries targeted by these types of hacks from January to March 2020 are mainly European countries with the UK at the top (20.8%), in addition to the United States and India. [caption id="attachment_5363" align="aligncenter" width="460"] Top countries targeted by spam emails connected to Covid-19[/caption] Experts predicted in December 2019 that security spending would experience a growth of 8.7%. However, the pandemic urged Gartner to adapt its estimate to 2.4% growth. Albeit the decline in the expected growth, factors related to the current businesses’ development are in favor of few security market segments such as cloud- and SaaS-based solutions that will still drive the sector on a positive trend. In fact, only Network security equipment and consumer security software are expected to decrease (-12.6% and -0.3%), while a considerable high increase of 33.3% is predicted for Cloud Security. The 2020 market will also experience 7.2% growth for data security, 6.2% for Application security, and 5.8% for both Identity access management and Infrastructure protection. From a cost viewpoint, IBM security’s latest insights reported that 2020 Cyber-attacks’ average total cost of a breach remains slightly at the same level ($3.86M in 2020 for $3.9M in 2019), with major increases targeting the energy (14.1% increase) and healthcare (10.5% increase) sectors. In fact, as countries’ stability is highly depending on the energy and utility industries, these sectors became in the past years a prime target for cyber-attacks encouraged by specific political and economic aims. Concerning the Healthcare sector, ForgeRock’s 2019 Consumer Breach report is showing that the most targeted data types are social security numbers, followed by medical records. These breaches will continue to increase as more COVID-19 tests and treatments are conducted. [caption id="attachment_5367" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Average total cost of a data breach by industry[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_5370" align="aligncenter" width="615"] Percent change in average total cost by industry, 2019-2020[/caption] Source: IBM Security, “Cost of Data Breach Report 2020”. What about African countries? The submerged side of the iceberg is mainly hiding the African countries’ situation as the cases are rarely covered. Moreover, their contribution to the cybersecurity market is still considerably low, while the number of incidents, mainly related to personal data security, is rising. Tomiwa Ilori highlighted in his paper published in June 2020 that out of the 54 African countries only 28 proved to have a data protection law including Morocco, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, and Nigeria. [caption id="attachment_5374" align="aligncenter" width="634"] Source: Tomiwa Ilori (April 2020). “Data protection in Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic: Old problems, new challenges, and multistakeholder solutions”, APC. [/caption] The provided snapshot above emphasizes that for African countries, there will only be room for serious discussions about Cybersecurity solutions when the inadequacy of their data collection’s regulation framework will be tackled. Raising the countries to the current Cybersecurity reality requires at first protecting the organizations’ most important asset by enhancing regulation and compliance requirements. To achieve this, data protection laws are only the first step. In this context, access to international instruments to reduce compliance gaps becomes a must. The continent should welcome, and particularly during this crisis, partnership opportunities between the different stakeholders, aiming to elevate their data protection laws to combine them with their cybersecurity strategies. Nada Benslimane - Business Analyst Sources:

How COVID-19 Impacted Travel & Tourism Industry Globally

The Travel and Tourism Industry In the past decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and became one of the fastest growing economic sectors globally. The sector witnessed a 59% growth over the decade in international tourists’ arrivals from 1.5 billion 2019 compared to 880 million in 2009. Tourism is also a key driver for socio-‎economic progress, with tourism specific developments in an increasing number of national and international destinations. Globally, the tourism industry contributed to $8.9 trillion to the global GDP in 2019 equaling a contribution of 10.3%. It is also to note that 1 in 10 jobs around the world is in tourism, equaling 330 million jobs. However, the strong historical growth has been halted in 2020 amid the global Covid-19 pandemic. With airplanes on the ground, hotels closed and travel restrictions implemented, travel and tourism became one of the most affected sectors since the very start of the virus spread. The pandemic has cut international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020 to a fraction of what they were a year ago. Closing borders, tourism & travel ban Countries all over the world applied travel restrictions to limit the coronavirus spread. Airport closures, the suspension of incoming and outgoing flights, and nationwide lockdowns are just some of the measures that countries are implementing in an effort to help contain the pandemic. After the spread of the pandemic in the first two quarters of 2020, at least 93 percent of the global population lived in countries with coronavirus-related travel restrictions, with approximately 3 billion people residing in countries enforcing complete border closures to foreigners.  The decline of International Tourists during the Pandemic The number of international tourist arrivals has been growing remarkably in the last decade and still sustained growth throughout the last years; in 2017 arrivals reached a total of 1.3 billion globally, 2018 reaching 1.4 billion and 1.5 billion in 2019.  In 2020, and with the severe impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, international tourism went down by 22% in Q1 and by 65% in the first half of 2020 when compared with 2019 figures. In March 2020, the UNWTO proposed 3 scenarios for possible declines in arrivals of 58% to 78% for 2020 depending on the start point of gradual opening of borders and lifting travel restrictions. [caption id="attachment_5343" align="aligncenter" width="446"] 2020 Forecast (Updated)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5344" align="aligncenter" width="447"] 2020 Forecast[/caption]   According to the UNWTO’s March forecast and its September update, the recovery for the industry might be in 2021 and domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international. In May 2020, the majority of the UNWTO tourism experts expect to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021. Covid-19 and Airline Failures The International Air Transport Association (IATA) financial outlook released in June showed that airlines globally are expected to lose $84.3 billion in the year of 2020 for a net profit margin of -20.1%. It also stated that revenues will fall by 50% to $419 billion from $838 billion in 2019. In 2021, losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion. IATA’s Director General and CEO, stated that “Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation. On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. In total that’s a loss of $84.3 billion”. What’s shocking is witnessing how many airlines have failed during the coronavirus pandemic. And even for airlines that are still in business, the situation is severely difficult: e.g. the US carriers have given out $10 billion in vouchers due to the pandemic. Listed below are a few examples of the biggest coronavirus-related airline failures worldwide.  - LATAM: To date, Chile’s LATAM is the largest airline to file for U.S. bankruptcy protection in May due to the pandemic. LATAM says it will continue flying as it restructures its debts in bankruptcy court.  - Avianca Holdings: The second-largest carrier in South America, Avianca survived the Great Depression - but not coronavirus. The airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Like LATAM, Avianca will continue flying during the restructuring. - Virgin Australia: After almost 20 years of operation, Virgin Australia - the country’s second-biggest airline - filed for voluntary administration, the equivalent of bankruptcy restructuring. It’s the largest airline to collapse in Australian history. - Flybe: The British regional airline Flybe was already struggling before coronavirus and both the UK government and Virgin Atlantic tried to save it. However, the airline entered voluntary administration, similar to bankruptcy, in March. - Miami Air International: After 29 years in service, Miami Air International filed for Chapter 11, then proceeded to cease operations. Hospitality Sector Hit by the Lockdown The lockdown due to the pandemic has affected the tourism industry across the globe, and the hotel sector is among the hardest hit. Global hospitality data company STR compared 2020’s first quarter status to 2019 figures, hotel occupancy rates dropped as much as 96% in Italy, 68% in China, 67% in UK, 59% in USA and 48% in Singapore.  There’s no doubt that the hotel industry has witnessed a severe impact by the pandemic and the lockdown status. STR is also comparing U.S. Hospitality statistics between 9th of May 2020 to 11th of May 2019 and reported a sharp decline in global hotel performance indices: - 55.9% decline in occupancy to 30.1% - 42.1% decline in average daily rate (ADR) to $76.35 - 74.4% decline in revenue per available room (RevPAR) to $22.95. Balancing the Return of Tourism Revenues and Safety As of July 2020, the EU opened borders to tourists from 15 different countries leaving the U.S. off the list. Health officials developed a plan to classify accepted countries based on how the country is performing in controlling the coronavirus. A country is considered under control when they have a number close to or below the EU average for new coronavirus cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants.  On 15 June, the European Commission launched ‘Re-open EU’, a web platform that contains essential information allowing a safe relaunch of free movement and tourism across Europe. The platform will provide real-time information on borders, available means of transport, travel restrictions, public health, and safety measures. Safe Tourism Enabling tourism once again would require measures ensuring that people are and feel safe towards traveling. Global safety and hygiene stamps are awarded by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to countries that are demonstrating their commitment to reopening their tourism sector as they recover from the coronavirus outbreak.  The WTTC, a council that represents private-sector travel and tourism, created the Safe Travels Stamp to allow tourists to recognize governments and companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardized protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.  Eligible entities such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, short term rentals, car rentals, outdoor shopping, transportation and airports, will be able to use the stamp once the health and hygiene protocols, outlined by WTTC, have been implemented.  As of September 2020, the ‘Safe Travels’ List included 100 destinations with Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal and Mexico among the first destinations to adopt the stamp and the Philippines as 100th destination. The Return of Tourism Globally With lockdowns ending around the world, many countries have started to ease border restrictions and reopen for international tourists. Although many governments are still advising against "nonessential" international travel, a host of popular destinations have eased their Covid-19 border restrictions and are readily welcoming tourists back: - The European Commission has released guidelines for how its Member States can start to ease coronavirus travel restrictions and enable tourism to begin again - The Baltic states are creating a “travel bubble”, allowing citizens to travel freely between them. - New Zealand and Australia have committed to introducing a trans-Tasman "COVID-safe travel zone", as soon as it’s safe to do so - Destinations like Dubai, the Maldives, Egypt, Lebanon, Croatia, Kenya, Tanzania and Jamaica have already opened their doors to foreign visitors again, while Thailand hope to reopen soon While tourism is slowly returning in some destinations, most members of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts expect international tourism to recover only by the second half of 2021, followed by those who expect a rebound in the first part of next year.  However, there are still concerns over the lack of reliable information and deteriorating economic environment which are indicated as factors weighing on consumer confidence, especially with the potential new limits on travel as world comes to grips with second Covid-19 wave. The concerns over the “second wave” of coronavirus brought on by returning vacationers are wreaking havoc on the world’s tourism industry. Mohamed Aref - Business Analyst Sources:,registered%20in%20the%20global%20economy.

September 22 2020 | Business Strategy, Economics
The Role of the Mining Industry in the Energy Transition

The energy transition is, as defined by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a pathway towards the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by the second half of this century.  The mining industry plays a focal role in addressing global warming and supporting the global energy transition. Although being a notoriously energy-intensive and high CO2 emitting industry – as of today, the mining sector accounts for approximately 2–11% of total global energy consumption, and 26% of global carbon emissions, green energy generation – being more infrastructure intense, requires much more metals and minerals, and therefore more mining activity. While this paradox comforts the fact that the mining industry is here to stay, it leaves only one way of achieving SDGs 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and 13 (Action against Climate Change), which is the adoption of climate-smart mining practices, including the integration of renewable energy to power mining operations. Mining for Green Energy Transitioning to a low-carbon energy system has been under way for the past few decades. Renewables’ share of annual power capacity expansion has been steadily increasing to reach, in 2019, over 72% of the new installed capacity. While this evolution is still largely driven in most countries by government regulations and incentives to meet the decarbonization and climate mitigation goals set out in the Paris Agreement, other countries have successfully transitioned past the support schemes (e.g. feed-in-tariffs) to competitive Power Purchasing Agreement auctions, facilitated by the steep fall in renewable energy costs, and growing engagement of energy and oil & gas companies in renewable energy projects. Low-carbon technologies, especially solar photovoltaic, wind and geothermal, are more mineral and metal intensive relative to fossil fuel technologies. To illustrate, for  every 1 megawatt (MW) of capacity of solar PV, about 3,000 solar panels are needed. In the case of wind power and electric transportation, each wind turbine contains about 3.5 tons of metal, while 83 kilograms of copper are required for every electric vehicle. Overall, the demand for base and niche minerals stemming from clean energy technologies manufacturing is expected to grow significantly, with anticipated increases of up to nearly 500% by 2050 for certain minerals in relative terms to 2018 production levels. This is particularly the case for those concentrated in energy storage technologies, such as lithium, graphite, and cobalt. These demand prospects suggest promising opportunities in resource-rich countries, thus prompting several governments including Bolivia—home to 1/4 of the world’s lithium resources, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Western Australia, into taking policy and investment actions to channel and support the development of their respective mining industries, in the global energy transition context. [caption id="attachment_5334" align="aligncenter" width="766"] Figure 1: Projected Annual Mineral Demand Under 2 Degree Scenario Only from Energy Technologies in 2050, Compared to 2018 Production Levels - Source: World Bank Group: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition, 2020[/caption] Deriving geothermal energy from mine water contained in abandoned coal mines is another way the mining industry can contribute towards building a less carbonized future. This option has been extensively studied in recent years and projects are already underway in countries like Australia, where the opportunity is sizeable. The use of the mine water as a geothermal resource inherits most of the environmental benefits of conventional geothermal heat pump applications while also providing more attractive advantages, such as highly efficient exploration and higher-quality geothermal energy. Green Energy for a more Sustainable Mining The total energy expenses are estimated to account for approximately 30% of total cash operating costs for mining companies, with around 32% of the consumed energy in the form of electricity.  Because the financial aspect was traditionally a more pressing motive for companies, and considering the rapidly decreasing costs of renewable energy over the last decade, the integration of renewables into mining has been underway for the past several years. This was mostly the case in remote mining locations where electricity costs through the grid are furthermore substantial, as well as in areas that suffered from recurrent power supply disruptions. Recently however, with climate change awareness gaining momentum in the industrial world and renewable energy sources being more cost-competitive than ever, mining companies like Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto, South African Gold Fields or Chilean copper mining company Antofagasta, are expanding the share of renewables powering their operations. Generally, this is achieved either through Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) or joint ventures with energy providers, by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) or via the mining company’s own microgrid. Undoubtedly, we’re still a long way from commercially viable 100% renewable energy projects, particularly for non-remote mines. But according to some experts, hybrid solutions with 50% renewable penetration are already achievable, and even represents the better commercial option compared to 100% conventional fossil-based power.  Oussama El Baz - Research Analyst Sources:,Wind,26%25%20of%20global%20carbon%20emissions.&text=All%20the%20sectors%20combined%20together,any%20fuel%20that%20is%20burned Energy and Mines, Issue 23, August 2020

August 04 2020 | Business Strategy, Economics
Wealth Management in GCC countries in the wake of COVID-19

While it is still early to estimate the damage of COVID-19 on economies, economists’ early estimates suggest a big negative short-term impact for countries. It is, without a doubt, the lockdown measures implemented by many countries had put global economies in the disruption. In certain economies, the impact is doubled. GCC countries, for instance, are experiencing dual shock from the pandemic: the economic shutdown and the collapse in global oil prices. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) (1 & 2) latest June report projects the economic outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia region to be negative at -4.7% by the end of 2020 but is expecting it to rebound in 2020 to be 3.3% growth as the economic activity is expected to slowly normalize. This has changed from its initial pre-COVID-19 crisis when the IMF projected a 2.8% increase of real GDP in 2020.   Figure 1: Real GDP Growth  [caption id="attachment_5308" align="aligncenter" width="808"] Real GDP Growth (Annual % change)[/caption] The Pandemic had also a deep impact on oil prices. GCC countries’ revenues rely mainly on Oil. But this latter has reached an unprecedented price level. According to PWC (3), if Oil prices are sustained at $20 per barrel for the rest of 2020, GCC countries can lose $554 million per day. The stock market in Gulf countries also has witnessed high volatility over the past few months. As figure 2 shows, the daily prices of indices have reached a maximum drop value for all GCC countries starting the beginning of March 2020 and started to recover again slowly. The following are the YTD of GCC indices (as of July 21st): - UAE ADX General: -16.5% - KSA Tadawul All Share: -11.3% - Bahrain All Share: -19.2% - Oman MSM 30: -13.1% - Qatar QE General: -10.6%   Figure 2: GCC countries Market indices performance [caption id="attachment_5304" align="aligncenter" width="652"] GCC countries Market indices performance[/caption] The combined effects of these macroeconomic indicators have the wealth management sector in a new delicate environment. As the revenue streams of managers depend heavily on the performance of the equity market, market volatility causes a decline in assets and therefore a decrease in management fees. Moreover, most Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) in GCC are oil-based, which means they depend heavily on prices of oil. However, over the years, wealth management has proven to be robust through crises such as the global financial crisis in 2008 and the European sovereign debt crisis in 2010. According to a BCG study (4), over the last 20 years, personal financial wealth in growth markets which consist of Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, has sped up to reach 25.3% of global wealth in 2019 vs. 17.3% in 2009 and 9.3% only in 1999. This is due to strong GDP performance and higher rates of individual savings. In the middle East alone, wealth has increased by 7.4% over the past 20 years to reach 4.2 Trillion USD in 2019. As a short-run effect of COVID-19 on wealth managers, wealth will see a decrease in value in 2020 but will rebound after based on 3 scenarios projected by BCG. In the case of a quick economic recovery, Middle Eastern wealth will increase by 5.6% in the next 5 years to hit 5.5 Trillion USD, 4.3% growth in case of slow recovery to 5.2 Trillion USD, and 3.4% under a lasting damage scenario to reach 5 Trillion USD by 2024. Last year’s estimates from BCG suggested that wealth in the Middle East will grow by a CAGR of 6.9% between 2018 and 2023.   Figure 3: Forecasted wealth in the Middle East [caption id="attachment_5294" align="aligncenter" width="595"] Forecasted wealth in the Middle East (Trillions USD)[/caption] Another study by Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley (5) expects the funds under management in the Middle East & Africa to increase by 6% annually for the next 5 years. Assets of High Net Worth wealth in the region will fall by 5% in the short term before rebounding to 5% by 2024. The report said that the pandemic will have a negative impact on the asset performance because of anticipated bankruptcies and muted executive pays, which will impair the overall net interest income. Overall, the wealth management industry has shown resilience through a historical crisis and is likely to survive the COVID-19 crisis as well. However, wealth managers should think about new ways to serve their clients. They should be vigilant and undertake more reactive approaches to stay competitive in the long run. They will need also to re-examine their operating model and adopt agile ways of working since the rivalry from technological advances will likely intensify.    Fadwa Khalil - Senior Associate Sources:

Covid-19 Impact on the Real estate Market in Egypt

Amid many economic and political shocks that Egypt has witnessed in the last decade, the real estate sector has proven to be one of the most resilient sectors as it may have slowed down after the first and second revolutions and the devaluation in 2011, 2013 & 2016 respectively, but it did not crash. The real estate sector in Egypt is mainly driven by many factors, amongst which: a strong demand with a supply gap of 3 million residential units in 2020, a growing population of over 100 million people mostly young people, and general drive to buy real estate as either as an investment as hedging against inflation or for their children due to the continuous increase in prices. The Real Estate sector has been on the rise in terms of investments and contribution to GDP as it is a relatively safe investment and the demand is always increasing. This is until the COVID-19 crisis, as the crisis impacted the saving of many middle-class families and led many to lose their jobs which in turn affected their savings and their properties, Coldwell banker claims that real estate properties represent around quarter to third of the Egyptian families’ wealth at middle and high-income classes and even more than that for lower-income classes. Has the sector been affected so far?   Despite the current situation that is affecting all the economy and the real estate market, the Egyptian capital Cairo, most sub-sectors remained stable during the first quarter with the office sector in particular that recorded strong performance. Cairo’s office sector has seen a 9% increase in average prime rents on an annual basis despite the unfavorable market conditions, due to the limited supply of high-quality offices. On the residential sector scenario, it remains almost unchanged with limited units delivered in the first quarter, keeping the total residential units at 159,000. A report published by Aqarmap (The largest real estate online marketplace in Egypt) shows that during the crisis of Covid-19 the leading purchase objective of the active buyers are actually first time home buyers, some are newlyweds or simply people who are finally entering the housing market; however, the segment breakdown shows how the objective differs by segment. The buyers assigned to socioeconomic status (A) and (B) who are active during the crisis are mostly buying to upgrade their home. While those in status (C) are mostly buying their first home. While other sectors may have been deeply affected by the crisis, the impact on Real Estate sector has been “manageable” as the CSO of Landmark Sabbour would put it. This could be mainly because the sector is greatly supported by the government. For example, in March 2020, the Central Bank of Egypt has reduced interest rates by 300 basis points setting the lending rate at 10.25 %. A move which experts hailed as great for the industry as a decrease in the lending rate and accordingly in Financing cost will make the sector more attractive for investors as it will likely increase the real estate valuation.  How much were the Real Estate developers affected by this?   The current market conditions have suffered from the pandemic and caused an increase in downward pressure on operations and sales volumes, resulting in landlords offering rental exemptions to support tenants. This is expected to reflect even further in the second half of this year provided the temporary lockdown of all retail operations and other preventative measures remain active Many experts & real estate developers believe that the residential market will not be very much affected as people still need to buy homes and that the market now is weaker, they would be more encouraged to move on with their plans. However, the real estate sectors that are expected to be hit the hardest are Luxury homes, Retail and F&B and the hospitality sectors In Cairo that has the bigger stock of units in Egypt, merely 135 residential units were delivered in the first quarter of 2020, keeping the total residential stock almost unchanged at 159,000 units as mentioned above. Around 58,000 units are expected to be completed over the remaining 9 months of the year. However, given the current market conditions and a potential slowdown in demand, on the back of negative sentiment and contraction of household incomes, we remain cautious of the timely delivery of projects and can expect these to spill over into 2021/2022. A large amount of future supply currently under construction in East Cairo has put downward pressure on sale prices over the quarter. Meanwhile, the shortage of supply in 6th of October makes it the better performer in Q1 2020.  How will the pandemic affect the sector?   Digitization: One dimension that COVID-19 certainly accelerated is the pace of digitization in the sector. Given the necessity of keeping a social distance, most real estate companies are now encouraged to rely more on digital solutions including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 360° virtual panoramic tours. For example, Iwan development started to progress its sales digitally by promoting its projects online and using different digital channels to provide payment plan options for clients. In addition, Tabarak developments are encouraging their clients to communicate and pay their installments using digital channels. The interesting part is that, not only the private sector is interested in the digitalization of the sector but the government as well. According to Khaled Abbas, Deputy Minister of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities for National Projects, the digital transformation of the sector is “inevitable” which was obvious in the usage of online services for the government’s offering of units and land in the Beit Al Watan project.  Healthcare Boom: According to a report by Coldwell Banker that was released in April 2020, the Covid-19 crisis is expected to increase the health awareness of many Egyptians which would lead to an increased demand for healthcare facilities that by role will help in flourishing the sector as a whole.    Loay Sherine - Senior Analyst   Sources: Graph: Page 8  Page 11 Page 98

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