Reflecting on 2020: The Chairman Edition
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the world. It continues to have a devastating impact with consequences for economies, for lives and for people’s acceptance of what is normality. At the same time, it has presented us with an unpresented opportunity to demonstrate the value that Supply Chain Finance (SCF) can bring to obviate the liquidity and business concerns, of many parts of the corporate sector and how it can be used as tool to drive sustainability.
Adjusting to a new normal
The pandemic has forced us to think very quickly and fundamentally about what is meant by “Continuity of Business” and how to manage such disruptions. At the start of the pandemic (even before the government lockdowns in each country) and throughout the following months we have had 2 clear priorities: to ensure that all members of ORBIAN staff are able to execute their work within environments that they, as individuals, feel safe; and to ensure that our clients continue to receive the highest standards of service from ORBIAN.
By ensuring that all ORBIAN staff were able to continue to perform their duties, and with parallel support from our IT, Trustee and Card Services partners, we ensured that all clients (both Buyers and Suppliers) were given uninterrupted service and funding.
The pandemic also gave us the opportunity to reflect on the way we are operating our business and to reinforce the role we play in our community and in our partners’ business.
An opportunity to reset for a greener future
As we acknowledge the tragic consequences of the pandemic, causing a lot of pain and disruptions, it is also important to see the positive that came out of it. The pandemic showed how quickly we, as individuals and businesses, were able to adjust our behaviours: we redefined the notion of international travel, we reinvented the way we work, we rediscovered our natural world, we realised that we can live as well with less… but more importantly it drew attention to a much bigger crisis: climate change; and to the imperative need to create business models that are addressing sustainable initiatives.
The situation is critical and a vast amount has to be done but the now universal acceptance, whether it is coming from individuals, businesses or governments, that climate change is real. Nature can have devastating consequences. The incoming administration of president Biden will put the United States back at the heart of global action on climate change. Just as importantly, the innovation and opportunities that a green economy offers us, give us hope that we can still make a difference if we all adjust our behaviours the way we did when reacting to the pandemic.
SCF, a tool to drive sustainability
At heart, SCF is about providing suppliers with access to liquidity and access to funding that enables them to manage their own business on capital terms that are more favourable than they would normally achieve. A sustainable SCF program is a SCF program that enables suppliers to meet the investment requirements that they have in order to create sustainable initiatives across their operations. There are ways of engineering SCF in order to provide incentives for suppliers who are driving positive changes and disincentives for those who underperform. 2021 will undoubtedly see a great deal of attention paid to the development of such “Sustainable SCF”, not only in respect of Climate Change, but also across all key aspects of personal and community well-being.
To stay the same, everything must change
A lot has been achieved in the past 9 months; we can be very proud of everything that we have done at ORBIAN but we need to recognize that the race is never over. Let us celebrate our success in 2020, and then turn our attention to the new and exciting challenges of 2021.