For many, the year 2020 was one to look forward to. Many in Trinidad and Tobago were eager to live through “Vision 2020”, to embrace the successes that followed with the unique number, however the world had another thing coming. COVID-19 struck. Countries, businesses, cultures, people and all the comfort that we once knew were under tight restrictions. Hundreds of thousands were unemployed, ill, died or misplaced at the hands of COVID-19. Adapting to the new normal was every country’s main focus. What would be the best practices to curb the spread of this dangerous virus? How do we curb the spread of the virus and survive? How do we manage economies and businesses?
All of these questions and more were dealt with by ways of restrictions and living life in the form of the ‘new normal’. This meant thousands of businesses were closed, children went on their daily lives at home rather than in schools, many were left jobless, economies crashed and country borders locked for safety precautions.
In Trinidad and Tobago with a population of roughly 1,399,488, it was of immediate importance to govern and manage the spread of COVID-19 on our shores. The current administration took steps very early that aided in managing a major outbreak in the country. Without disregarding a job well done, the business sector was immediately affected. It was no longer business as usual.
At Media InSite we have been monitoring COVID-19 coverage and discussions in traditional and digital media. Undoubtedly many lives have been altered; thousands of businesses have suffered along with people. However, we have not turned a blind eye to those industries who have and continue to provide assistance to communities and families.
Based on our findings, the insurance industry has greatly lent a helping hand to those in need. Companies like Sagicor and the British Caribbean Insurance Company, (BCIC) in Barbados and Jamaica doing a wide range of CSR initiatives, helping thousands. Sagicor Barbados has made donations to mothers and nurses on the frontline of the battle against this health crisis, in recognition of Mother’s Day and International Nurses’ Day.
Sagicor Trinidad and Tobago has also done several initiatives, one being teamed with Sewa International TT (Sewa TT) to donate masks to the less fortunate. Reports also noted Sagicor created insurance plans for health care heroes, donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and as well as online learning platforms for students. BCIC was recognised as the very first insurance company in Jamaica to offer partial refunds on premiums for the month of April 2020 in response to historic lows in motor vehicle accidents. These are a few of the highlighted initiatives done by the insurance industry allowing us to better understand the core values and missions of these big companies.
In addition to this industry, it would be unacceptable to not mention and show gratitude to the other sectors, such as the manufacturing sector. Angostura Holdings Limited donated 70,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to first responders, communities and businesses. Unicomer (Trinidad) Limited also played their part in the fight against COVID-19. Under the direction of the Managing Director Clive Fletcher, the company donated essential furnishings and other supplies to assist with the establishment of a step-down facility at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua to house 50 persons.
Our telecommunication providers also showed their support as Bmobile partnered with United Way for a text to donate initiative and provided to the UWTT's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. The telecommunications company gave free cell phone minutes to over 100 frontline doctors and nurses. Bmobile hosted a free virtual teleconference meeting between Ministry of Health staff and COVID-19 experts in China and provided free or zero-data access to the University of the West Indies and other educational websites Bmobile also aided the educational, health and transportation sectors with a number of other initiatives. Bmobile also teamed up with United Way to provide further assistance to the national COVID-19 relief effort by lending support to the Ministry of Social Development and Family services. Their competitor, Digicel also did tremendous work to assist in various ways such as giving free internet access, reduced rates and donations to the Lady Hochoy Home.
The banking sector also stepped in with RBC Royal Bank’s donation of $US 330K to Caribbean food security through NGOs. Republic Bank was highlighted for its administered hamper drive at the National Association of Administrative Professionals as well as its donation of $US 2M in the fight against COVID throughout its operating territories.
With uneasy conversations surrounding the energy sector, the country was still capable of receiving assistance from the National Petroleum Company (NP) as well as Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd. The National Gas Company (NGC) teamed with the NAAA and have been distributing hampers to deserving athletes. Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited distributed 300 hampers to Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councillors to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
We must acknowledge that there are those communities who have not yet been reached due to flaws and loopholes in every system. The next step should be finding ways to fix these loose ends to ensure all in-need are granted assistance.
Gratitude must however, be in order for all the mentioned and unmentioned brands, sectors and companies that continue to bridge the gap that COVID-19 developed in our various communities. We look forward to highlighting continuous work done by the various sectors that build our economy.