Despite being in business for three years, Truck Lagbe - an on-demand hauling service provider – received a major blow because of Covid-19 as the country-wide shutdown brought about a heavy fall in demand for hauling services.
Ever since the lockdown was lifted, the situation has gotten a little better for Truck Lagbe, although customers are still very concerned about safety issues.
So, to address the customers concerns Truck Lagbe teamed up with Shebaxyz – a major on-demand service marketplace operator – to provide free cleaning and sanitisation services to its weekly "10 best performing drivers".
"We believe this initiative can generate awareness among other drivers and encourage them to maintain safety standards as well," said the company's Marketing Manager, Al Amin.
Truck Lagbe is just one enterprise among a pool of thousands of enterprises which are trying to operate through stringent safety measures to gain the confidence of their customers in these trying times.
But, for small companies investing in the company anew at a time when business is slow can be difficult. Which is why many of them are leaning on on-demand services providers such as Shebaxyz who have come up with innovative products to help out other business, especially startups, to get back on their foot.
Sheba.xyz itself had witnessed a fall in revenue by 80-90 percent, according to its Chief Strategy Officer Samiul Kabir, during the showdown. However, once the lockdown eased, Sheba.xyz reorganized their products and launched a campaign where businesses can trade products and services among themselves and sustain themselves through the pandemic.
The campaign, Founders Against Covid-19, was launched under sBusiness.xyz, a wing of Sheba, to assist start-ups and businesses like Truck Lagbe to recover from the crisis.
According to research and surveys conducted by sBusiness, 70 percent of startups ceased operations due to the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and 24 percent had to close down their business completely.
Since its inception in 2015, Sheba.xyz has been tending to the needs of city-dwellers by offering a variety of services like home cleaning, appliance repair, beauty and salon services. With time, Sheba expanded and stepped into the B2B service industry as well. Now, Sheba.xyz has many wings - sManager, sBusiness, sDelivery, and sBondhu – all catering to various sorts of customers.
Currently, under its new campaign, sBusiness is offering six services that can be beneficial to both, the provider and the recipient.
Businesses that are adapting to the "work from home" model can aim for a more efficient workforce by using sBusiness's DigiGO. This application aims to assist human resource departments in executing operations virtually. And if companies need assistance with keeping virtual records of expenses, they can avail the "accounting solutions" service as well.
Companies returning to their traditional offices can avail cleaning and disinfecting services through which the cleaning company can generate revenue and the recipient can get a ready-to-use office space and start its operations.
Businesses that have to pay employees mobile bills can avail the mobile recharge service and top-up all the numbers running under different operators with just one click.
If things at the office need to be repaired, repairmen working with Sheba can provide the services right away and that too, with a 30 days service guarantee.
Entities which need to have a traditional office space but cannot afford one can take up to sBusiness and find the right office at the right price.
Speaking of the "sBusiness's DigiGO" service, Isa Abrar Ahmed, vice-president of Sheba Platform Limited, said, "We have been able to help many companies through the crisis. Now, we are offering this application on a trial basis for six months."
"Within the first week, 96 companies signed up and 13 of them are live now. I am sure that many companies will benefit from this app."
Since its inception, Sheba has been operating as an "on-demand service marketplace" and this business model is turning out to be useful or the "Founders Against Covid-19" campaign as well. All the services being offered by sBusiness are delivered by companies verified by and enlisted with Sheba.xyz.
Even though many companies have been able to restart their operations, there are some that need financial support to keep the business afloat. To assist such small and medium enterprises, Founders Against Covid-19, in association with sBusiness, The Business Standard, Don Sumdany Facilitation and Consultancy, and Better Stories, has prepared a Tk1 crore stimulus package that can be availed as service credit.
This credit package can be availed by any company that has been in business for at least three years. Each business can apply for a minimum of Tk50,000 and a maximum of Tk100,000 as service credit. Upon receiving the credit, a company will have to repay the amount in installments over a time span of three months and the credit will be free of interest.
There are many factors that need to be considered while providing credit package services to a company which is why the process can get lengthy. While describing the credit service, Samiul mentioned, "We are offering service credit to businesses – providing services on their behalf and in turn, allowing them some time to pay their dues."
sBusiness plans on expanding the credit services and options as well.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, sBusiness had been operating actively in the market. The services being offered were similar to the ones being offered now under the "Founders Against Covid-19" campaign. However, the customer response now is not as promising as it was before the pandemic.
"As everyone is trying their best to avoid social contact, attracting potential customers can be a difficult task. The biggest challenge here is to gain people's trust," said Samiul.
And to work around this situation, Sheba Platform Limited will be focusing on people's permanent behavioural mindset and ways to complement businesses using technology.