During this time of uncertainty, the words of John D Rockefeller come to mind, “I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.” No one could have imagined that businesses around the country would have to involuntarily close their doors to fight COVID-19 and flatten the curve. For most businesses, this has been a time of disaster with some closing their doors permanently while others have turned this disaster into an opportunity. Two businesses that have managed to do this are Ballo and Creative Graphics International.
Ballo is an environmentally conscious company that started out making sunglasses from recycled and upcycled materials in 2013 to later making clothing from sustainable fabrics. During the lockdown, Ballo has pivoted to include face masks with a “vibe” to their product line. The vibe aspect comes from the colourful offcuts that are used to make the masks as well as the names of the different masks. Customers can choose from a normal mask or be more adventurous by going for a banana split mask, bizmask, mingo mask or the vibe mask.
In keeping with their Do-Good philosophy, Ballo has added a social aspect to their masks together with Khayelitsha CAN (Community Action Network). This started off with 1-to-1 mask donation for every mask that was purchased and evolved to feeding one person for one week with every mask that was purchased through a donation of food boxes. Ballo shows that even during these times of uncertainty, it is still possible to think about people and the planet more than profit.
During this time, Creative Graphics International (CGI) has moved from manufacturing automotive graphics and badges to manufacturing face shields, desk shields and social markers in an attempt to keep the company afloat. Having been around for over 40 years with numerous awards and accolades did not make CGI immune to one of the key risks associated with a manufacturing business – the cash flow cycle.
The immediate focus for CGI was to ensure that salaries and wages for staff could be paid and then focus on keeping the lights on and paying rent. Within a matter of weeks, the staff were trained to make thousands of face shields and other protective gear. Not only did this mean that these employees would be able to provide for their families during this time, but it also gave them a sense of comradery that they were playing an important role in fighting COVID-19.
As lockdown regulations become more lenient, many businesses will also be forced to start looking for opportunities to try and recover from this time of disaster. Ballo and CGI prove that it is possible. It’s time for businesses to start picking up the pieces in an attempt to recover their businesses.