Kurt Farrugia - Photo by Jason Borg

Throughout 2020, against the backdrop of a dramatically different business and economic landscape due to COVID-19, the subject of sustainability reached fever pitch. Locally, that also applied to Malta’s economic model, and what that should look like in a post-pandemic scenario.

Malta Enterprise CEO, Kurt Farrugia says that while a slowdown in some industries should be expected this year, it is undoubtedly the right time for companies to regenerate their business models.

“Businesses should re-think their services and products and take them to the next level. What is the client expecting in a post-COVID scenario? What did we offer during the pandemic that clients might want to retain? This can include the variety of online services, the deliveries, the virtual assistants and bots communicating with clients online, among many others.”

He says businesses that think the purchasing experience will return to pre-pandemic normality, without any changes or developments, are in denial of what this whole experience has taught us.

“People now expect to purchase items in a single click from an Instagram story – bought from their mobile phone, at the very end of the day, from the comfort of their own bed, and expect delivery at their home or office in a matter of days. The retail experience can be applied to any sector, but to do this we need to assist businesses in their daily operations,” says the CEO.

Such assistance can be found through Malta Enterprise via various available schemes, such as the Business Re-Engineering and Transformation Scheme, which caters for the brainstorming of a business’s needs, the thought process, and the realisation of these processes. Other schemes offer tailored training needs for employees to adapt to the new reality, such as tech training, managing an online presence, customer care in an online world, and more.

“At an extraordinary time like this, it’s also important that our workforce is upskilled and reskilled according to the needs of companies. It is useless for a company to go digital if its workforce is not prepared to operate its new systems.”

A conversation which must take place in parallel is the driving of sustainability in every practice going forward, says Mr Farrugia. “Re-engineering the economy cannot be a separate conversation from re-engineering our country’s resources, and therefore ensuring the element of sustainability.”

He adds that, moving forward, it is not about the number of clients on one’s books, but about the quality of the service offered, and the customer experience. “It is also about the sustainability of the product and of the business itself. We must find ways to keep maximising what we already have rather than opt for new resources every time.”

This refers to the purchasing of materials, their sustainability and contribution to the circular economy; as well as investing in new skill sets and the training of staff.

“Investing in staff is a key element of the sustainability of jobs as businesses seek to diversify their activities and the way they conduct business,” says the CEO. “Employees should shoulder such changes and be able to retrain themselves, playing their own role along with their employer’s efforts. Each individual must be aware that their contribution towards the system is valid, and expected, in a chain of actions towards the final goal: that of re-building a thriving economy in a sustainable way.”

Mr Farrugia also foresees that that the future will bring about more start-ups, as, while some businesses fail, others emerge, either as spin-offs of previous businesses or as new ideas. “We encourage start-ups to consider our schemes, such as the newly revamped Business Start and the Start Up Finance. The assistance here covers operational costs ranging from services to salaries to relocation costs to Malta.”

Featured Image:

Jason Borg

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