By Mauricio Zuluaga
The last time the world saw the majority of countries falling into recession at the same time was in 1870. That period, known as the Long Depression, was generated by a decline in the value of silver, and it is considered the first international economic crisis. Today, the World Bank points at the COVID-19 crisis as the deepest recession in 250 years. The international financial institution forecasts that the global economy will shrink by 5.2% this year, twice as great as in 2008.
Beyond statistics, the biggest concern is in regards to the pandemic social effects. At the same time that the world accounts for over one million of deaths; lookdowns and mobility restrictions are driving the wedge between rich and poor deeper in nearly every nation. For the first time in two decades, global poverty is increasing, and 50 million people may fell into the segment of those living on less than $1.90 per day.
In regards to gender equality thinks don’t look better. Canada Royal Bank claims that the pandemic is threatening three decades of women’s labor force gains. That is the reason why some voices have started talking about ‘she-cession’, pointing out that this recession is affecting women much more than men. At this point, it is important to keep in mind that women full participation in the labor market is not politically correct, but economically right. Different economists have said that the benefits of women participating in the labor market equally with men would add $100 billion per year to the Canadian GDP.
This overview confirms Bill Gates's quote: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has not only stopped progress; it’s pushed it backward’. However, there is room for optimism. Even when this pandemic threatens to wipe out decades of social progress, there is a unique opportunity to adapt our business, fit the needs, and - once and for all - address long-standing issues such as the low rate of employment, gender inequality and climate change.
In regards to the labor market, in the words of the Colombian entrepreneur, Omar Gonzalez Pardo, ‘we need to become entrepreneurs rather than employers’. This means that contrary to what we used to see among previous generations, where it was perfectly normal that a person worked for a single company for over 30 years, today it is necessary to create our own job, rather than fit an existing position. The only way to achieve this goal is through entrepreneurship. The needs created through COVID-19 have to be satisfied, and new services and products may be demanded.
On the environmental segment, it is clear that we need to do more. Climate change poses a major threat to societies, and the need for eco-friendly solutions to declining CO2 emissions is now a priority. In this way, create more sustainable businesses and services are the blueprint to achieve a better, and more sustainable planet.
In the middle of the pandemic, expressions such as ‘new normal’, ‘reinvention’, and ‘resilience’ have become very popular. But what the world really demands from us is adaption. Over two centuries ago, in his theory ‘The Origin of Species’, Charles Darwin wrote: ‘it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself’. In simple words, adapt to survive.