Covid Crisis, Cash Flow, and Culinary Business Mitigation Plan
Social distancing and food stockpiling lead to the collapses of service industry resulting on a huge wave of unemployment. How should restaurant take the best decision and win-win solutions?
In Q1 2020, I currently am 25 years old and this is my first time experiencing world crisis after I reach adulthood. The first time I knew about coronavirus in December 2019, I thought it is only going to affect healthcare and political systems; yet, after the Wufan’s lockdown, I knew it is soon going to be economical. And it is our first world crisis after social media interconnectedness-digital era that human mankind is facing new lethal virus with its unique challenges including hoax, mass paranoid, and over sharing for their preventive actions to protect themselves from the virus. The virus is not as fatal as plague in 14th century, influenza, SARS or H1N1 but the crowds’ character has changed. They started to stockpile masks, hand sanitizers, and food like it’s WW3; and the panic spreads faster than the virus itself.
I live in Indonesia, an emerging lower middle-income country which United States excluded us from developing and least-developed countries list and no longer eligible to receive special differential treatments (SDT) since late February 2020. But I perceived Indonesia, with its huge development gap discrepancy, as a developing country. When the rest of the world experiences less than 2% fatality rate, Indonesia is counted at 9.7%, showing how urgent we need international aid. Since our president, Jokowi, suggested citizens to limit interactions and to lower the curve - so called social distancing; economics has been slowing down incredibly. Exports-imports are in turmoil, dollar and gold appreciating, stocks and service industry collapses. It is a huge laid-off for entertainment, tourism, and travel business.
I run two restaurants in Surabaya, whose employees numbered around 48 and the latter is 24; and my restaurant pays off wages to 72 individuals with spouses and kids; making up we provide livings for around 150 creatures. For a new entrepreneur like me, it is a catastrophee.
It’s been 20 days since the first case in Indonesia by the time I write this and the number is exponentially incremented with unknown, untested and undocumented cases nationally. My restaurant sales has fallen by 80% with less people dine-in, and only online food service that drive sales. Due to the incurred material cost (supposedly a variable cost that has became sunk cost), fixed labor cost, and overhead cost, lots of restaurant owners decided to close its business temporary and lay-off workers. Then to be a mindful and aware employers, they shall understand that it will become a domino effect engenders crimes. And based on my conscience, I will never let 150+ people I’ve been working and in love with, wander the streets, begging for foods and their babies stunting. And on top of that: Eid al’Fitr, the Muslim festival is coming in May, a double religious holiday allowance for the 98% of Indonesia’s population; Covid-19 generally strikes for three months, and Indonesia has not yet on a halfway journey.
Then, at times like these, man’s greatest gift is utilitarianism’s moral standard, I suppose? Moral actions based on consequentialism and utilitarianism, of how an actions shall be based on maximizing the good and the best outcome and determined based on the consequences. I restlessly think about how they shall live when I run out of money for the next three months. Yet, the solution is always trust and understanding. Today, I explained to them that everyone’s wages will be cut by half during crisis along with their working time. It’s hard to digest since they do not really aware about crisis and what’s happening. And when they have a better opportunity, I would be happy to let them work in a better place. I am doing my best. I started to accept freelance and digital commissions just for the sake of them: to be able to pay them. And during the festive, I think I will owe them allowance to be paid for in June. Now it seems silly. Previously, they work for me and now I work for them. Before, they owe me, and now I owe them. The wheel has turned and we back to basic: trust is the only thing we can rely upon.
Laying off them seems alluring to save myself and when Covid almost over, there would be a huge wave of unemployed, qualified workers and I just need to start again. It is easy for the capitalists. Nevertheless, it is a battle between selfishness and selflessness. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize microfinancing father, says that human is multidimensional creature who can be selfish and selfless at the same time. And I believe in him, for me and for them, to survive together, and there’s a silver lining to strengthen our bonds and to trust again.