Special issue “SMEs during and after Covid-19”


Guest editor: Prof Chux Gervase Iwu, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa.

Deadline: 31 July 2021.

Over the years, SMEs have gained prominence as significant boosters of the economy of any nation. This claim is supported by many studies (for example Amoako-Adu, & Eshun, 2018; Herrington, & Coduras, 2019) that have located SMEs at the center of any economic rehabilitation and sustenance project. Many researchers such as Kamunge, Njeru, and Tirimba, (2014) and Iwu, (2017) have also paid attention to the speed at which SMEs cease to exist. The reasons offered for this include lack of finance, business education and several others. Some other researchers such as Eresia-Eke (2013), Sifumba et al (2017) and Petersen, Bruwer and Le Roux (2018) have also dealt with risk management abilities and risk propensity of businesses and their owners  thus suggesting that to avert the risk of not being in operation for a long time, SME owners must undertake some measures. Business sustainability risks are characterized as economic, social, and natural with each closely linked to uncertainty (Brãtianu, 2020). 

Corona virus is novel despite countries in Africa having had to battle with diseases such as Ebola, HIV, Tuberculosis (Mwisongo & Nabyonga-Orem, 2016; Egeru, Dejene & Siya, 2020; El-Sadr & Justman, 2020). The narrative surrounding it is confusing and leaves one preoccupied with one’s survival while business sustainability is relegated to the back seat. Considering the havoc that the Corona virus has deposited on nations of the world including the critical importance of SMEs, it becomes important to investigate how SMEs can be sustained during and after the pandemic especially in Africa where the virus is exerting an excruciating impact on the economy. The latest figures (ILO 2020) of unemployment in Africa portray its dismal struggle to curtail the triple threat of poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

Equally disturbing is the uncertainty in governments, including political instability which has resulted in the inability to offer quality health care to citizens (Gombe, 2018). A critical look at the leading causes of death in Africa (WHO, 2018) offers an even more worrying picture of the situation especially considering that diseases such as Ebola, HIV, and Tuberculosis have shown how poor African nations are in dealing with any sort of crisis. These no doubt impact negatively not only economic growth but also the health of citizens of these nations (Jaspal, Assi & Maatouk, 2020). Since the outbreak of the pandemic, nations around the world have witnessed a sharp rise in demands for proper health care, which can threaten economic activity. Such threats often manifest in social unrest and increased protests (Iwu & Iwu, 2015).

As significant contributors to the growth of an economy, it is necessary to consider the ‘health’ of SMEs as the pandemic continues to ravage nations.


Brief on Covid-19

The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the Hubei Province in Wuhan, China, rapidly spiked the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that impacted nearly every country and their inhabitants around the globe (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2020). Virtually every organization's strategic plans have been rendered useless by Covid-19. Limiting the movement of people and goods, the isolation and quarantining of people, and the requirements of social distancing no doubt have had profound ramifications for the global community one of which is high unemployment. Unemployment not only impacts the economy; it has long-lasting implications for the well-being of individuals, and this iterative cycle of negative impact has the potential to implode.

Even though it seems that the number of Covid-19 causalities does not match the escalating figures of the developed world, the restriction on the movement of persons and goods has dealt a significant blow not only to the developed nations, but also to the fight of African governments to rescue their dwindling economies (WHO, 2020). In all these, SMEs seem to be the most affected.



Opute et al (2020) note that businesses should reconsider their strategies during a crisis. Additionally, Iwu (2021) suggests the need for “intense [empirical] scrutiny of how maladministration and governance can ruin an entrepreneurial ecosystem” as well as how the lockdown has affected businesses.

This special issue welcomes well-written/researched papers – empirical or conceptual – on any of the following topics (not limited to these anyway) in relation to Covid-19:

  • Family business
  • Risk management
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Female entrepreneurship
  • Future of entrepreneurship
  • Immigrant entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship education/training
  • Entrepreneurship ecosystems analysis
  • Sociocultural issues of business management
  • Business continuity and emergency measures
  • Psychological effects of the covid-19 on business owners


To make submissions: https://www.hdbresearch.com/hdbr/about/submissions



Amoako-Adu, B. & Eshun, J. P. (2018). SME financing in Africa: collateral lending vs cash flow lending. International Journal of Economics and Finance, 10(6): 111-123.

Brãtianu, C. (2020). Sustainability Risk Management of Firms. Amfiteatru Economic22(55), 635-637.

Egeru A., Dejene S.W., & Siya A. (2020). Short report on implications of Covid-19 and emerging zoonotic infectious diseases for pastoralists and Africa. Pastoralism, 10(1):12.

El-Sadr, W.M. & Justman J. (2020). Africa in the path of Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine, 383:e11. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMp2008193

Eresia-Eke, E. E. (2013). Can owner-manager characteristics signal small business loan default propensity?. Journal of Economics and Behavioral Studies5(11), 762-776.

Gombe, M. M. (2018). Political economy of health in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region: The effect of political instability on health outcomes and expenditure (Doctoral dissertation, University of Cape Town).

Herrington, M. & Coduras, A. (2019). The national entrepreneurship framework conditions in sub-Saharan Africa: a comparative study of GEM data/National Expert Surveys for South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar. Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, 9(1): 60.

International Labour Organization. Global Employment Trends for Youth: Africa. (2020). Available online at https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_737670.pdf. Accessed 30 November 2020.

Iwu, C. G. (2017). Sustaining small businesses in emerging economies: an examination of the pre and post startup ramifications. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 15(1 (cont)), 227-236.

Iwu, C. H. & Iwu, C. G. (2015). A review of public order policing in South Africa: Reflections and considerable interventions. Socioeconomica, 4(8): 541-552.

Iwu, CG. (2021). SME sustainability and growth in emerging markets. In Handbook of Research on Sustaining SMEs and Entrepreneurial Innovation in the Post-COVID-19 Era, 397-418. Igi-Global.

Jaspal, R., Assi, M. & Maatouk, I. (2020). Potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health outcomes in societies with economic and political instability: case of Lebanon. Mental Health Review Journal, 25(3): 215-219. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-05-2020-0027

Kamunge, M.S., Njeru, A. & Tirimba, O. I. (2014). Factors affecting the performance of small and macro enterprises in Limuru town market of Kiambu County. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 4(12): 1-20.

Mwisongo A., & Nabyonga-Orem J. (2016). Global health initiatives in Africa – governance, priorities, harmonisation and alignment. BMC Health Serv Res. 16(Suppl 4):212.

Opute, A. P., Iwu, C. G., Adeola, O., Mugobo, V. V., Okeke-Uzodike, O. E., Fagbola, O., & Jaiyeoba, O. (2020). The COVID-19-pandemic and implications for businesses: innovative retail marketing viewpoint. The Retail and Marketing Review, 16(3), 85-100.

Petersen, A., Bruwer, J. P., & Le Roux, S. (2018). Occupational Fraud Risk, Internal Control Initiatives and the Sustainability of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises in a Developing Country: a literature review. Acta Universitatis Danubius: Oeconomica, 14(4). 

Sifumba, C. M., Mothibi, K. B., Ezeonwuka, A., Qeke, S, & Matsoso, M.L. (2017).  The risk management practices in the manufacturing SMEs in Cape Town. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 15(2-2), 386- 403. https://doi.org/10.21511/ppm.15(2-2).2017.08

World Health Organisation (WHO), (2020). WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-themedia-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020

World Health Organisation (WHO). (2018). The top 10 causes of death. Available online at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death. Accessed 30 November 2020.