INVESTIGATION OF THE LEVEL OF COVID-19 SAFETY COMPLIANCE AMONG SMES IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Small and medium scale enterprises has been a focal point of the various governments of the world, because SMEs have flexible configurations and immensely contributed to nation building respectively (Aderemi et al. 2019) . Generally, the World Bank classified SMEs as businesses with maximum of 300 workers. Meanwhile, in Nigeria`s context, small and medium scale enterprises are conceptualized as business entities that have less than 50 employees. Basically, these enterprises possess investment in machinery and equipment that is less or equal to six hundred thousand naira and independently owned and operated with a view to generating job opportunities and meeting sales standard (CBN, 2018). National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)estimated numbers of SMEs in Nigeria to be 41.4 million. The unique nature of SMEs lies in the utilization of raw materials from local sources, creation of employment, motivation for rural development, entrepreneurship development, mobilization of local savings and platform for self-employment.
However, devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic on both human and material resources in early 2020 cannot be forgotten in a hurry. The Wuhan-COVID-19 emerged in 2019 in China like the way Ebola did in West Africa in 2014. But, COVID-19 resulted into global pandemic- which spread across the globe without obstruction (WHO, 2020). This novel virus sparked off various restrictions to movement of people, goods and services. The closure of factories businesses alongside reduction in production of good and services was not left out due to the stay-indoors orders invariably reverberated its effect to activities of SMEs globally however after the lockdown with not all the SME’s functioning, the ordeal was how to ensure the rate of Covid-19 spread is drastically reduced. This is only achievable when SME owners and patronizers comply to the stipulated safety guidelines. Evidence from Worldometre 2020 indicate that asymptomatic infection and transmission of COVID-19 is possible. Asymptomatic infection occurs when an individual is infected but experiences no symptoms, while asymptomatic transmission occurs when an infected individual without symptoms transmits the virus to another person.
These evidences imply that in countries like Nigeria, where the capacity to conduct mass testing is lacking and contact tracing is not very effective, asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases act as silent spreaders and this underlines the importance of social distancing, regular hand washing and good hygiene, and mask wearing to be practiced primarily among the general public especially owners and patronizers of SMEs.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Small and Mediuim Entreprises like Supermarkets, Hotels, Fastfood Restaurant and manufacturing industries are as highly susceptible to COVID-19 as other public establishments visited by large numbers of people who interact among themselves and with employees. They are places where guests stay temporarily in close cohabitation and where there is a high degree of interaction customers and workers.
These critical issues are not only related to supermarket , restaurants, and cafeterias. In fact, enterprises that are into production of goods and services whereby their client and customers require specific attention, every staff member and customer must strictly comply with the basic protective measures against COVID-19 recommended by the WHO.
SMEs are required to strictly follow their staff health, sanitary measures, and correct use of personnel protective equipment during work, applying rigorous visitor/customer policies. Cleaning and disinfection of frequent and high touch points with approved chemicals and sanitizers with defined frequencies and practicing social distancing and employee optimization during shifts can be helpful in preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Thus this study seek to investigate the level of covid-19 safety compliance among SMEs in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
This study in general is set to assess the level of covid-19 safety compliance among in SMEs in Nigeria. Specifically, this study seeks to:
- Assess the different established covid-19 safety measures that SMEs comply on in Nigeria.
- Examine if the owners of SMEs are strict at adhering to the covid-19 safety measures in Nigeria.
- To determine the level of covid-19 safety compliance among SMEs in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
- What are the different covid-19 safety measures that SMEs comply on in Nigeria?
- Is owners of SMEs strict in adhering to the covid-19 safety measures in Nigeria?
- What is the extent of Covid-19 safety compliance among staffs and customers in SMEs in Nigeria?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study would heighten the level of awareness of SME’s owners and employees on the need to comply to the covid-19 safety measures as they are at a high risk exposure to the diseases while rendering commercial services and product. It will compel chief executive officers, managing director, and business owners on the need to ensure they put up facilities and equipment that will enable the effective compliance to this Covid-19 safety measures withing their business premises or factories. It will enable government to ensure that authorities involved like Covid-19 task force to do a regular check on Small and Medium Enterprises to ensure that high compliance level is maintained which will reduce the spread of this novel disease. Thus study will also serve as a guide to academician for further academic purpose in this area of research.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study would assess the COVID-19 safety compliance level among SMEs in Nigeria using Kilimanjaro Fast Food and Pick Payless Supermarket in PortHacourt Rivers State as a case study.
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: The level of covid-19 safety compliance among SMEs is low
H1: The level of covid-19 safety compliance among SMEs is high
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the course of the study challenges encountered were exclusively but not delimited to the following numerous. These are
- Inadequate finance: the research was face with problem of inadequate fund which hinder the researcher from shuttering to Access Banks within Lagos more so in printing and collation of questionnaires
- Time: time factor pose another constraint since having to cope in this research which went simultaneously within the time schedule of other academic work making it impossible to undertake this study in large more representative skill
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS:
COVID-19:Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel corona virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2.
SMEs: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are non-subsidiary, independent firms which employ fewer than a given number of employees.
SAFETY: the condition of being free and protected from risk or anything that is harmful
COMPLIANCE: compliance means adhering to stipulated rules, specifications, procedures, policies and laws