Sectors profiting from COVID-19 crisis (Part 2)

Last week we saw how some sectors actually benefited from the pandemic crisis. Although it is too soon to measure the true magnitude of the damage to many industries, some areas have shown record-breaking profits.
Gloves makers have seen an unprecedented surge in demand for their products. Some of such producers used to be mere marginal players in the para-pharmaceutical-healthcare industry until a few months ago.
Most of them have not moved an inch into innovation for years if not decades: a glove is a glove. Yet the pandemic provided them with an immense uprising opportunity, transforming their dull manufacturing to some of the hottest stocks on the exchange. The Malaysian gloves producer Top Gloves had its shares steadily cruising around MYR 1.50 ($0.36) for 2 straight years since 2018, before spiking to over MYR 9 recently ($2.18).
Medical masks makers enjoyed an even bigger growth all over the world, but given that making a mask requires less knowhow, less machinery and more readily available raw materials — fabric vs latex — many companies started producing face masks out of the blue.
In Thailand alone, a country with a long history in garments and apparels manufacturing, companies such as Greyhound, Kloset, Leisure Projects, Painkiller Atelier, Baking Soda, Rotsaniyom, Shaka, iCONic, Adhoe Store, Jaspal and Wonder Anatomie jumped on the bandwagon of fashion face mask making virtually overnight.
In the Middle East, and more specifically in the GCC, there has been a surge in SME registration. An unprecedented trend that in line with the Government incentives to drive the private sector to a new renaissance, gave the extra drop of courage for a new generation of entrepreneurs to come.
Many of the new SMEs that have been incorporated during the pandemic are eyeing online sales and distribution, logistics and remote services such as but not limited to IT and consulting.
When it comes to technology, edutech (or edtech) seems to have experienced a rebirth.
Throughout my career as a trainer I saw e-learning coming and going several times over the past two decades. When face-to-face lessons were the norm, it was seriously challenging to make a case in favour of remote learning. But all has changed in 2020, and nowadays we might even wonder why we have travelled so much in the past to attend courses that we could have as well attended in the comfort of our homes.
Speaking about education, there has been an increasing number of individuals who realised how important it is to speak near-to-perfect English. The jobs of the future are increasingly going to be performed from home, so much that 1 in 4 companies in the Middle East has already begun implementing remote working as a policy. Therefore, it is likely to expect that international relationships will become more and more frequent. As such, basic English is no longer sufficient, so English courses have picked up large amounts of new enrolments.
Some say that the pandemic is far from over, yet the world is preparing to go back to an altered normality. Part of the economic success stories that we have witnessed are here to stay, while others could go back to the point where they started once the real normality is back to business as usual.
[The columnist is a member of the International Press Association]