How easy was it for InvesTT to adapt to national safety measures?
It was thankfully a seamless transition for the InvesTT team to adapt to national safety measures. As an organization, we kept abreast of the developments in the spread of the virus. Our plans went as far as preparing all staff for the possibility of closure of our offices and piloting a work-from-home programme before it became a directive by government. The entire organization successfully participated in a one-day pilot for remote work operations. This allowed us to identify and tweak the process for maximum efficiency, particularly in terms of connectivity. When the state announced that only essential services were to remain open, we were prepared to move to a fully functional work-from-home status.
How did InvesTT provide continued support to clients during the crisis and were there any major challenges encountered?
IPAs around the world have revisited their investor targeting and facilitation activities. So InvesTT was not alone in this situation. We curated information from credible sources with expertise on IPA crisis management strategies, such as UNCTAD and WAIPA, and elicited feedback from investors to inform changes to our approach.
When the pandemic was declared, InvesTT was in the final planning stages of the launch of our FDI Stimulator Network. Scheduled for the end of March, this event was to include key businesses leaders across our priority sectors. We assessed the options available to us and subsequently hosted it as a webinar in April. It achieved its objectives despite having to pivot to an e-platform at short notice.
As an IPA, our job is to engage the relevant approval agencies for our clients and to deliver an investment experience that is as efficient and seamless as possible. The near shutdown of major regulatory agencies that we depend on for information and service tested our ability to deliver this experience. This was the biggest obstacle we encountered. However, our working relationships with these agencies enabled us to access the necessary information and services to guide the majority of our clients’ projects.
Clients in the process of submitting documents to move their investment projects forward were uncertain of their next steps due to the new restrictions. InvesTT was able to fill this gap. Our Aftercare Officers explored available avenues to get the processes moving again. Where that was not possible, information was provided on the existing protocols in place, with ongoing follow-up. Meetings scheduled with regulatory bodies were facilitated via online meetings to continue stakeholder discussions. Public service advisories were also uploaded to our website to keep our clients and stakeholders informed. We wanted to ensure that our clients knew that they were not alone during this time of uncertainty and that our expertise, support and resourcefulness would continue to be readily available to them.