Business Beyond Covid-19: Growth Means Continuous Reinvention and Revolution

Source: MaximP,Shutterstock


  • In a post-Covid world, the notion of “normality” is nothing more than a security blanket.
  • Creating a successful real estate business in the constantly and rapidly shifting emerging and frontier markets of Africa requires a well-informed, empowered, and adaptable on-the-ground team.
  • Opportunities will remain in some form or another. It is how we evolve our organisations, our attitudes and mindsets that will allow us to identify and tap into them that is constantly changing.
  • COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of building a corporate culture with a cohesive mindset and sound partnerships with key stakeholders.

– by Bronwyn Knight (CEO of Grit Real Estate Income Group)


The “new normal.” It’s a term that first gained traction in the wake of the 2008 global recession and once again now, as we’re trying to make sense of life with COVID-19.

It is roughly a year ago that the world woke up to a pandemic spreading faster than wildfire with governments globally implementing various levels of lockdowns to restrict movement and the spread of the virus. The race for an effective vaccine was on and delivered in record time – with everyone breathing a sigh of relief as we expected to return to our normal lives. Only for new strains to mutate, rendering the original vaccines largely ineffective.

Which begs the question – is there such a thing as “normal” or is it a security blanket we convince ourselves of in an otherwise unpredictable, volatile world?

For those of us living and working on the African continent, the relativity of “normal” is constantly shifting, especially if viewed through a Western paradigm. Politically and socio-economically it is a fluid continent, still dealing with the legacy of colonialism as most countries in Africa gained independence only after 1960.

If there is one thing that entrepreneurship has taught us, it’s that opportunities will remain in some form or another. It is how we evolve our organisations, our attitudes and mindsets that will allow us to identify and tap into them that’s constantly changing.

One of the big considerations when a business grows quickly, is to throw resources at any challenges.  It is easy to bulk up on staff, offices and support functions and think that it will be adequate to ensure sustainability. The reality – as again demonstrated by the pandemic – is that it is always a core team of individuals who step up and drive the reinvention and revolution of the business head-on, regardless of the size of the organisation.  When irrational and fear-based decisions start impacting the business, it is the key talent that becomes solutions-driven, thinking not only for the business but from the perspectives of shareholders, financiers, tenants and others as well. During times like these, CEOs with a view on fast-tracking and developing especially junior talent, have a rare opportunity to gauge the ability and commitment of their teams.

Operating on the continent, teams have to have an inherent ability to approach challenges pragmatically. This disposition can be leveraged further by encouraging cross-team and cross-stakeholder collaboration to find solutions to some daunting challenges.

For example, with no deal-flow at the early stages of the virus, Grit Real Estate Income Group seconded its investment team to assist with the workload and offer a different perspective in other areas of the business. Similarly, our treasury team entrenched themselves with the banks, building on relationships shaped since the formation of our company. Every bank has a different risk appetite and our multi-banked strategy enabled us to match our risk appropriately, with all of our financiers assisting during this very complex stage.

The results have been simply astounding, with measurable, long-term impacts on the business. I have also seen unbelievable work ethic – no-one on the staff has had a “normal” life since the pandemic. Everyone is involved in scenario planning, forecasting and collaboration where ideas are tested. A lot of emphasis is placed on extending this approach to each country of operation, where it is important for our teams on the ground to have the right support and ability to input and contribute crucial information.

During this time where retrenchments and cost cutting are commonplace, companies will do well to maintain a culture of cost consciousness. Having prudency intrenched in the corporate culture will not only mitigate current balance sheet pressure but position organisations well for when the next inevitable crisis surfaces.

COVID-19 provided an opportunity to test the effectiveness of every part of the business, including engagement with service providers and the refinement of workstreams to optimise costs. 

At Grit, we do not buy into the notion of a “new normal”. Every day we wake up to new challenges. Growth is sometimes painful, but you get better at dealing with the variables and surrounding yourself with teams, business partners and tenants with the same focus. It becomes a way of life.

The way we work will continue to shift and ultimately opportunity lies in the ability to consistently re-invent and revolutionise.



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