This week we’re launching our annual State of South African small business report. It focuses on the trends set to shape small business recovery and how technology will be key to driving growth in the future.
2020 has been a year like no other and it’s been a particularly tough time for small businesses. We spoke to a number of business owners as we were putting the report together about how they’ve been adapting. This period has revealed a radical new approach to work and to running businesses, proving that we can always find ways to adapt to any situation we face.
One organisation we spoke to was the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation. Pivoting to go digital during lockdown meant they could still educate and inspire children in South Africa and further afield.
Here’s more from their Chief Executive Officer, Maryke Musson…
What does your organisation aim to do?
The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is a non-profit and public benefit organisation based in Cape Town. We were founded recently by the Two Oceans Aquarium to promote and expand on the excellent educational, conservation and research initiatives, which have formed part of the Two Oceans Aquarium for the past 25 years.
The Foundation continues to grow its wide range of activities while increasing positive social and environmental impact through inspiring behaviour change.
What has the reaction been like to the Foundation?
Due to a great reputation people know we deliver world class education and conservation. People are also becoming more conscious of the need to protect our precious environment, and we have an important role to play in educating future generations. We have only recently started operating as a non-profit so are currently building support and momentum to grow our impact.
How are you finding the impact of COVID-19 on your organisation and the industry as a whole?
We certainly did not anticipate having to close our discovery centres and real world activities during our first month of operation. Despite this, as an education and conservation organisation, we’ve still been able to create awareness, continue saving sea turtles and inspire others through virtual education.
The pandemic definitely created major challenges, but we also saw many opportunities to adapt fast to ensure we continued to have a positive impact during lockdown.
Did you have to pivot and change the way you operate?
We made the decision to immediately pivot and took our educational activities online. We set up our eLearning platform, became pros at presenting on Zoom and have offered 17 online courses since the start of lockdown.
We also partnered with schools in poorly resourced areas to reach their students and unlock environmental education during lockdown. We can now inform and inspire students all over the world, where previously our activities were only based locally. We continued with our turtle rescue and rehabilitation programme, with 27 turtle patients in our hospital with around the clock care.
How has technology benefited your organisation during COVID-19?
For us, moving across to Xero just before lockdown was perfect timing. Having an efficient cloud-based accounting system has been hugely beneficial. We can access our financial information remotely and generate management accounts with ease. We also have incredible support from our cloud accountants.
How has your accountant supported you during COVID-19?
The Iridium Business Solutions team has been incredible. Their support and availability is next level. I love the fact that we have direct access to a team of highly qualified accountants and specialists, from our cloud account manager, to our team lead and the company directors. I do think that we will get the same level of support and enthusiasm lockdown or not, but it’s been particularly important as we pivoted. It was one less thing for me to worry about during these trying times.
Download the full State of South African small business report 2020 here.