COVID-19 and “reinventing” a new business model – The Cairo Review of Global Affairs


What is happening in the world? A question we all ask ourselves and the answer we all get is: “everything changes.” The world is a dynamic place that is changing gradually, but constantly, and COVID-19 serves as a catalyst that accelerates this process of change. We can see and feel this change on our faces with everyone wearing protective masks or having our temperature measured before entering a building. Most importantly, we practice physical distancing, while desperately trying to stay socially connected. All of these changes mark the start of a new era that presents challenges different from those we have faced before.

The economic system in the post-COVID-19 world is sadly characterized by the following challenges: a pandemic, a climate crisis, social unrest due to high levels of income inequality, gender and race inequalities, and the need of a new, more equitable social system. Contract. The system is also characterized by the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs, the bankruptcy of millions of companies and the threat to the future of work as the Fourth Industrial Revolution approaches.

What all of these problems have in common is that they make people think and ask a question; Are we locked in a broken economic model? Yes, COVID-19 has fundamentally shaken our economic systems, and they appear to be failing to meet the needs of people in the post-COVID-19 world.

Yes, the world has changed and at a much faster rate than expected. COVID-19 showed us the flaws in our system and also showed us how our survival instinct made us try so hard to be nimble and adapt to change. COVID-19 Presents Historic Shutdown Window of Opportunity to Reshape the System; humans must seize this opportunity to be on a more sustainable path and we must start thinking about the development and implementation of a new economic model that meets the basic needs of all humans and maximizes human well-being .

Current global economic recovery efforts cannot rely on previously developed methods, techniques and programs to effectively tackle this unprecedented crisis. To date, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and the drugs currently in use are previously developed antiviral drugs that do not kill the virus, but rather work to limit its spread throughout the body. Just as we need a new treatment for COVID-19, we also need a new business model to successfully overcome this crisis and help economies thrive, not just survive.

People prefer stories to numbers because they can be easily understood and remembered. As such, for this new model to be successful, it must have a story that describes the present and portrays the future. This story should be simple and should address all of the issues mentioned above to be widely supported by the masses. If people want to replace an existing story, we have to find a better one; agree on a new narrative about how we want to live.

This is what happened when the laissez-faire economy failed, it was replaced by the Keynesian economy which offered a different narrative that was widely accepted – one that revolved around the redistribution of wealth and of the spending of public money on public goods. When Keynesian economics failed, it was replaced by neoliberalism which was also widely accepted by the masses at the time: it was characterized by the withdrawal of the state from the equation and the fact that the private sector would create wealth and opportunities for the masses.

During the 2008 financial crisis, when neoliberalism failed, it did not die and was not replaced by another economic model. Yet it still dominates our lives to this day, which begs a simple question, why does it still exist? The simple answer is that there is no consensus on the alternate history of how we want to live in the post-neoliberal world. In 2020, neoliberalism was put to another test where it failed again with hundreds of millions left behind. Therefore, now is the time to work on an alternative history, a new business model that solves current problems and is supported by the masses.

The story of our new business model must be characterized by forward-looking solutions that have a wider impact in a much shorter time frame. We need an economic transition similar to that which took place from Keynesian to neoliberalism; the time has come for the transition from neoliberalism to the new economic model.

As a result, this model needs to be fairer, and through equitable sustainable development, wealth sharing and universal basic income, it prevents anyone from being left behind.We need a new model that uses the diverse capacity of 7.8 billion people to fight against the climate crisis and inequality. Humans need a new model that embraces the circular economy and new techniques to build more inclusive, equitable and sustainable cities that live on planetary means, where food security is not an issue and where developments are technologies are seen as opportunities, not threats.

Most importantly, we need new models of business and business creation, because current models have proven that the supply chain is as weak as its weakest link. We need a new model that will make the world a better and more connected place for us now and for future generations. All of these drastic changes must happen in the next 10 years, before it’s too late.

The only way forward is to start a global conversation ASAP, where people are laying the groundwork for this new model, and once we reach consensus, we need to start implementing it. Perhaps we will not immediately see the positive impacts of this model when it works successfully, but it is certain that our future generations will thank us for our efforts.

Dr Ahmed Alaa Fayed is an Egyptian scholar, educator and social entrepreneur. Fayed is currently the Executive Director of the Modern Schools of Egypt (MSE) group. He is also the founder and CEO of Cairo Graduate College (CGC). Previously, Fayed was an assistant professor of public policy. He obtained his PhD in Public Policy from King’s College London – University of London and his MPA & BSc from American University in Cairo.

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