The Honey Bun Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Honey Bun Limited, hosted a virtual summit on Thursday, featuring business leaders and industry experts sharing tips on and insights into how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and persons in the creative industry could find opportunities to thrive despite the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The digital summit titled ‘Critical Conversations for Critical Times’ featured Michelle Chong, founder of The Honey Bun Foundation and chief executive officer (CEO) of Honey Bun Limited; Senator Aubyn Hill, CEO Jamaica Economic Growth Council; Marlene Street Forrest, managing director Jamaica Stock Exchange; and Andrea Dempster Chung, executive director Kingston Creative. The summit was moderated by Alex Ihama, executive coach and global professional strategist.
Chong outlined what she called the ‘Intensive Care for COVID-19’ strategy. “We have to grow thorough this pandemic and not just go through it.” Chong said that persons who find themselves with lots of downtime during the pandemic should find ways to improve themselves, whether through taking a digital course listed on The Honey Bun Foundation’s National Training Calendar or learning something new on YouTube.
Chong also emphasised the need to manage stress carefully during this time, noting that the more difficult a situation is, the more creative people tend to become. “Managing our stress is very important. Laugh! Love! Learn to be generous,” she said.
She advised the SMEs to also embrace change. “Change is the name of the game … . Because you are small, it’s easier for you to change. Use your size to your advantage.”
According to Senator Hill: “What The Honey Bun Foundation is doing is very timely,” he said. “We never envisioned a pandemic like COVID-19, and if not managed properly, it can become an economic disaster.”
Hill, however, noted that he was very confident that Jamaica would get through this pandemic as the nation and the world, as a whole, had successfully navigated many crises before. He said that the Government was working hard and was well-positioned to lead the nation to better days after the pandemic.
Street Forrest noted that this was the time when many are wondering if they should stay in the stock market. She highlighted how well the companies were doing before the pandemic, saying: “Jamaican companies are resilient. Speculators will be cashing out, but investing in the stock market is about long-term investment. We have had many crises before COVID-19 – stock market investment outperforms all other investments in the long run. If you are investing for the long run. Look to staying in the market. The market will go down, but it will come back up more folds than when it went down.”
Dempster Chung noted that while the creative industry was adversely affected, it was not all doom and gloom. “Demand is high, and that is our advantage. Don’t just cancel events. Tell people how they can find you online, where to browse your products, how they can become patrons, how they can pay online directly for your products.”