The GDPC’s Business Preparedness Initiative (BPI) aims to protect and promote more comprehensive community resilience by providing actionable guidance through scalable tools that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can utilize to learn how crises might impact their business and community, and to help SME owners and managers to develop crisis preparedness plans. Supported by the IFRC, GDPC has worked closely with experts at Resilient Organizations to develop business-focused preparedness content for a suite of BPI tools. These scalable tools enable Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies to implement or enhance their outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the category of businesses most vulnerable to crises and disasters. Using these tools, RC/RC National Societies can implement outreach programs, deliver workshops, and design marketing campaigns to stimulate SME preparedness with business plans, employment protection, and strengthened supply chains. This toolkit is for Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies interested in establishing partnerships with local SMEs in order to promote and support expanded business preparedness.
Promoting a Business Preparedness Culture
Small and medium-sized businesses play a critical role in their communities and in the wider private sector as many contribute to supply chains and local employment. Small businesses employ members of the community, provide resources for people to meet their daily needs, and contribute to local business districts, as well as regional and global supply chains. This makes it that much more important for small businesses to be prepared so that they and their local economies can recovery more quickly after a disaster.
While many small businesses are intuitively aware of the importance of being prepared for how disasters might affect their operations, many small businesses often do not actively plan ahead This is often due to a high financial cost and lack of actionable guidance on how to plan ahead. As a result, when disasters strike, hardships result not only for businesses, but also the surrounding community.
A 2018 study of Hurricane Harvey, led by the Global Disaster Preparedness Center, the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET), and the Zurich Foundation, highlights the role of small businesses in preparedness and recovery through two case studies:
Business Preparedness Workshops & Outreach
The GDPC, in partnership with Resilient Organisations, has developed a comprehensive guide for partners wishing to implement a business preparedness initiative. This guide is for Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and other organizations, associations, and networks (e.g. Chamber of Commerce). The guide has been designed to support these groups to develop their own program of activity; it contains links to available resources, as well as ideas and suggestions for customizing the tools at a level that suits the resources available and the needs of local business communities.
The complete suite of materials for BPI includes a Workshop-in-a-Box. Using this, Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies will be able to implement a business preparedness campaign with local partners, small business and local governments to help them spread the initiative within the communities, following the next actions:
Through interactive workshops designed for business owners and managers, National Societies will provide key information about disaster preparedness and how to implement within their businesses. The workshops are 4.5 hours interactions. For each workshop, National Societies have the following information packages, available to customize to their local partners, language and dates. Visit the BPI Workshop-in-a-Box Resource Page to access all materials, including:
- Invitation and Promotional Material
- Workshop Contents:
- BPI Workshop Content
- BPI Workshop + Business Basics Content
- Post-Workshop Materials
National Society staff members and volunteers implement a communication campaign to share key messages on the importance of business continuity and resilience.
“Atlas: Ready for Business” Mobile Application
Atlas: Ready for Business is a scalable mobile application aimed at preparing small businesses to withstand common crises they might face, such as a natural disaster. The mobile application is one step in the process of implementation of a Business Preparedness Plan. The app utilizes interactive features to guide small business to customize their business plan step-by-step, including chat sessions with Atlas that prompt the user to assess their level of preparedness, to test progress and to guide the user on the unique journey towards resilience.
The app includes different stages on how to move forward with their plans: Operational Readiness, Leadership and Culture, Networks and Relationships, Change Readiness, Employees. The information created is stored in the app and can be shared with other businesses during a disaster.
Business owners and managers start developing their Business Preparedness Plan through “Atlas: Ready for Business” at their own time and following the assistance provided by the mobile app.
Business Preparedness in action
In 2018, the Uganda Red Cross Society in partnership with the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC) and Kampala City Traders Association launched a campaign to enhance disaster preparedness of urban small and medium enterprises in Kampala, Uganda. The campaign is part of the Business Preparedness Initiative promoted by the GDPC and supported by USAID and UPS, to engage businesses as partners in reducing community disaster risk.
The Uganda Red Cross Society developed a series of customized materials based on the BPI Guidance, including posters, radio ads, and print advertisements. Visit the Uganda BPI resource page to access these customized materials, which can be updated to use in other countries and contexts.