7 ways to protect your business during elections
By Lloyd Gitonga
The link between politics, the elections and Kenya’s economy has been under the microscope as we near this year’s polls on August 8th. In three of the five election years since the introduction of multi-party politics, the economic growth rate has slumped (1992, 1997 and 2007).
With every election, the looming threat of civil unrest causes uneasiness particularly among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s) who are among the worst hit by any post-election chaos.
While expressing utmost confidence in the mitigation measures that the government has put in place, John Ogutu, the Senior Operations Manager at Securex Agencies (K) LTD, still stresses the importance of drawing lessons from past election years and planning accordingly.
Ogutu suggests seven ways in which business owners can minimise risk during the election and campaign period.
- Postpone major investment plans
Business owners should therefore consider postponing any significant investment decisions till after the polls. Most businesses have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to spending on infrastructure, expansion or even hiring of additional staff.
“A business owner could even take this a step further and make efforts to move any expensive operational equipment to remote, more secure locations, especially for enterprises with more than one branch,” Mr. Ogutu added.
2. Boost security
Entrepreneurs are also urged to consider bolstering their security prior to the polls.
“The Police and National Intelligence Service have both mapped out the potential flashpoints across the country. Business owners with premises in these locations should look into securing their perimeter, perhaps with electric fencing, and reinforce their windows with impact-resistant film or steel burglar-proofing to prevent vandalism and looting,” Mr. Ogutu noted.
3. Ensure minimum staff at work
Another precautionary measure that business owners could take is to minimize risk by retaining only essential staff over the electioneering period. By encouraging other employees to go on leave at this time, one reduces the number of people who would be at risk if civil unrest flares up in their locality.
4. Put in place contingency plans
Contingency measures should also be put in place to ensure the safety of the essential staff, such as ferrying them to and from home, and establishing an emergency supply of medication and dry foods on site just in case transport is compromised while they are at work.
5. Back up important company data
Business owners are also reminded to consistently back up data on their servers and devices. This will ensure that any physical damage to their systems does not result in the loss of data that would be critical to the company’s operations.
6. Look out for police, polling stations
“We also advise business owners to look around and identify any polling stations and police stations that are around their premises. Most local public primary and secondary schools will be used as polling centres during the elections, and any unrest is likely to start in these areas,” Mr. Ogutu added.
7. Establish alternative routes to work
“It would, then, be prudent for one to also identify alternative routes to their places of work, just in case access through their regular commute is blocked for one reason or another,” Mr. Ogutu concluded.