Business and SBN’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

20th April, 2020

The SUN Business Network (SBN) is committed to supporting its membership of 800 businesses to respond to the food systems challenges related to COVID-19 through its global members and national networks. Our focus will be on supporting the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector through our global and national partners.

How is SBN responding?

  • Developing situation reports from across our national networks for the SUN Movement
  • Rolling out an SME survey to better understand the challenges and opportunities they are facing
  • Undertaking advocacy activities to promote SME sector support by SUN Country Governments and SUN Networks

Supporting the SME sector in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) will be critical to keeping local food systems moving and ensuring access to safe, nutritious food for low income consumers. SMEs are responsible for most of the food that reaches consumers in LMICs. In Africa, 64% of food consumed is handled by SMEs. SMEs are the engines of LMIC economies. By some estimates, they contribute up to 33% of GDP in emerging markets and create over 50% of jobs (an even higher number if the informal sector were accounted for in these markets).

Our SME sector key advocacy messages are:

  • COVID-19 will present unprecedented challenges to the food system. It will strain supply chains, drive up costs of production and distribution, putting pressure on the operations of SMEs, and most likely causing price shocks, unemployment, bankruptcies and potential food shortages. Innovative approaches will be required to alleviate the challenges within the food system and ensure the delivery of safe and nutritious foods to all, particularly to vulnerable communities in LMICs. Further, governments must find ways to support SMEs to ensure they are able to produce, distribute and sell nutritious food under these new conditions.
  • Women-led SMEs, particularly women-led micro-enterprises, will be disproportionately impacted – they already face greater challenges in accessing technical assistance and finance – and will face greater challenges as they balance additional care duties with keeping their businesses afloat.
  • The proximity of SMEs to local communities means they are well placed to shape their businesses in response to consumer demand and adapt their businesses to new distribution and delivery models, especially around last-mile distribution.
  • More than ever, SMEs will require a mix of policy incentives, technical assistance and financial support to ensure local food systems keep supplying enough safe and nutritious foods.

Read in full: Key Messages around Support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during the COVID-19 Pandemic

For updated information and commentary on the impact of COVID-19 on food systems please see


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