The unexpected Covid-19 pandemic turned 2020 into a difficult year. Most of the countries in the world entered lockdown, disrupting logistical value chains, commerce and quickly reaching all different areas.
Covid-19 forced PFAN to adapt to a different operational reality. PFAN responded to the sudden change in a quick and agile way, successfully adapting to it. The effects of the pandemic were minimised and business continuity was ensured by transforming its operations digitally. Flexible telecommuting was guaranteed for all personnel and online meetings and webinars were held instead of traditional in-person meetings and events. The virtual methods allowed PFAN to continue cultivating close relationships with its partners.
Furthermore, PFAN initiated a specific Covid-19 response in partnership with GET.Invest to offer its expertise in helping climate entrepreneurs towards ensuring business continuity during the turbulent times caused by the pandemic. The scope of support is in line with PFAN’s core expertise around the areas of developing bankable projects and enabling access to finance. In this specific case, the focus of the mentoring is on business continuity and supporting rescheduling and renegotiation of existing facilities.
The response was designed as a three-step approach, consisting of 1) informative webinars, 2) virtual clinics and learning sessions, and 3) tailored 1-1 advice.
Companies benefitted from insights and technical assistance from experienced advisors, helping them adapt their business model to the new normal (e.g., to digitalize more, pivot their business models), and to build back better and more resilient.
During PFAN webinars and clinics, climate SMEs mentioned various challenges they faced due to the pandemic. Access to working capital has been named the most frequently. In that respect, PFAN and GET.Invest have also developed a database of Covid-related support initiatives for climate SMEs, ranging from relief support to other useful resources publicised by organisations around the world. There were more than 120 initiatives listed that were made available to all public with the ease of a click.
Market insights survey
To receive further insights from the field, PFAN has conducted a survey among its Country Coordinators to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on SMEs and their needs.
Highlights from the survey:
- Majority of the respondents think that the effects of the pandemic will continue for 1 to 2 years in their countries, and that pandemic has affected entire supply chains.
- Around 30% of respondents think that the pandemic has severely affected the Power Generation and Distribution sector. The rural electrification sector has been somewhat (according to 43% of the respondents) or badly (according to 40% of the respondents) affected. A high majority of respondents indicate that the business and project development activities in these sectors have been majorly affected.
- In addition to sectors listed above, the following are named among the most affected: tourism (23%), agriculture (13%), and manufacturing (12%).
The world will not be the same after the pandemic – neither the climate SMEs nor investors' expectations. Developing resilient business models will be of high importance. Building on the insights gained and lessons learned, PFAN will thrive to continue supporting the climate SMEs and contributing towards a sustainable future.