May 18, 2021
The Honorable Jonathan Cohen
Ambassador to Egypt, United States of America
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EmPath
Businesses have had to shift their priorities and meet unexpected challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, from difficulties within supply chain resources to creating success in an almost completely digitized market. Despite the pivots, many businesses have thrived in emerging markets and opportunities created from the pandemic. However, opportunity for further growth exists.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Forum on Economic Recovery, Carlos Gutierrez, chairman and CEO of EmPath, spoke with Carol B. Tomé, CEO of UPS, and Blanca Treviño, president and CEO of Softtek, about the importance of creating and investing in inclusive growth opportunities in emerging markets.
Businesses Must Pivot Despite Challenges in Supply Chains
Due to the challenges supply chains have experienced in operations during the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have seen delays and upsets to their products and services. As demand has soared, businesses are struggling to keep up.
“There is a demand-supply imbalance, which is causing opportunities for pricing to be firm and for businesses like UPS to really perform,” said Tomé.
Despite challenges, Treviño notes the unique possibilities the digital market has created for businesses and supply chains during this time.
“You can source your supplies or distribute your products on the click of a button,” she said. “[When] advertising, you can leverage Facebook, Instagram, TikTok … to promote your products in a highly effective fashion.”
With Technology, Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Are Bound for Growth
Tomé and Treviño stress the importance of technological growth in the increased digital market for opportunities within small businesses.
“There's been a step-change in e-commerce sales around the globe,” said Tomé. “As people were sheltering in place, they were buying things online.”
“It is irrefutable that more and more services are being delivered in a digital fashion and are becoming borderless,” Treviño added.
“[For small and medium-sized businesses], it's all about a digital experience,” said Tomé. “It's what they need to have digital fluency and digital capabilities to conduct commerce wherever they are and whatever geographies they want to play.”
Treviño also noted the government plays an important role in assisting small- and medium-sized businesses to have the same technological opportunities as big businesses.
“I think that challenge is for governments to really make sure that policies are there [so] that they do have access to [the] internet,” she said.
The Pandemic Has Uniquely Affected Women
To create lasting inclusive growth in emerging markets, there must be equal opportunities for all, including women who have been affected greatly by the pandemic, Tomé said.
“When we think about the impact of the pandemic, we know that women were impacted more than any other group,” she continued. “Even before the pandemic, women had barriers for global trade. There was great research done by McKinsey that said that if men and women were to trade equally, it would add … $20+ trillion to the global economy, [so] we’ve got to get some changes to regulations.”
Treviño added that even though the pandemic has caused challenges, there are still opportunities for women and small businesses.
“Disruption [also gives] you opportunities, and it's up to you … if you are a woman, if you’re a company, if you're a small business, to really understand this,” she said.