“From capital to develop and export goods like coffee, to training and support with digital platforms, Pacific businesses – especially female-led business – are in urgent need of tangible support,” says the Pacific Trade Investment (PTI) Australia Trade & Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 on female-led businesses in the Pacific continues to rise, according to the latest Pacific Business Monitor survey conducted by PTI.
The fifth survey in PTI’s ongoing series has found that 92% of female-led businesses have reported a fall in revenue. In comparison to the previous survey, the number of fully operational female-led businesses has declined from 29% to 23%, while partially operational businesses have increased from 19% to 41%.
Jarvis states that despite the COVID-19 free status of most Pacific Island Countries (PICs) “the economic impact of closed borders has been debilitating, especially for nations that are reliant on tourism – a sector with a high proportion of female employees.”
“Many women are performing a juggling act – balancing work with being the primary care givers,’ explains Jarvis- a trend correlating to findings published in a recent report by the United Nations titled, ‘Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women’.
The UN report notes that girls and women are ‘suffering more’ due to many factors: home schooling, disproportionate lack of access to digital tools, work capital, skills and higher care responsibilities.
The latest PTI survey finds that COVID-19 has had a ‘negative impact’ on the mental health of 31% of female-led business in contrast to 14% of male-led businesses. Levels of happiness and optimism continue to decline as 45% report felling worried ‘most of the time’ or ‘all of the time’.
Despite the negative impacts, more female-led businesses are implementing adaptive measures such as pivoting to online business, and seeking rent reductions or relief.
Jarvis states that “it’s a long road ahead, and its vital that we continue to champion the voice of businesses in the Pacific by continuing to provide quantitative results to governments, donors and regional organisations so they can see the realities facing Pacific businesses.”