Cholera outbreak and its impact on corporate activity


The fable of the boiling frog serves as a cautionary tale for business leaders. This allegory tells of a frog placed in cold water which, as the temperature slowly rises, fails to escape, unfortunately dooming it to a catastrophic end.

Although this does not actually happen in reality, people can fall into this same trap, as our brains are programmed to only take notice of drastic or sudden adjustments in our situations.

The current cholera outbreak is an example of this. As we frequently travel, trade and communicate in our more and more connected marketplace, many businesses could be affected by various diseases originating from far away.


One issue is the disease itself, but another concern is more related to fear. The rapid spread of information, both authentic and fake, can instill fear among customers and staff alike, leading to quick changes in customer behaviour and widespread worry among the employees.

Cholera is a serious problem in some sectors due to a lack of healthcare access and poor living conditions. It can be deadly if not dealt with properly and promptly.

So what is the concern here for employers?


Well, the most obvious impact on corporate activity is the potential harm the outbreak could do to employees and the business itself. It could also limit business travel, affecting how companies communicate with each other, as well as clients and suppliers.

Companies may also need to restructure their benefits regarding paid time off, as HR managers try to get contagious staff members to stay home.

The cholera outbreak has greatly disrupted complex supply chains. Just-in-time manufacturing has revolutionised how businesses function with its focus on small on-site inventories and low defect rates.

Low inventories and high turnover make producers reliant on quick deliveries from suppliers, making them vulnerable to disruptions.

Companies know their immediate suppliers but not the location and operations of contractors beyond that point. To help businesses better understand their risks, successful tracking of the cholera outbreak must include comprehensive coverage with high geographic and time resolution.

Following a crisis like the cholera outbreak, there is typically a sharp rise in corporate and individual insolvency. Organisations with weak markets are more prone to liquidity issues and bankruptcy risks.

Despite the downturn in sales and cash flow, these organisations still need to cover operating expenses such as rent, licences and interest payments.

Organisations should be aware of how the cholera outbreak may impact their customers. The daily rise in new cases can put a damper on a company’s performance, as there is a great deal of fear concerning infection.

This could lead to fewer people visiting stores and entertainment venues, and less money being spent there. Additionally, it could cause people to switch to online shopping, which would affect businesses already in existence and their ability to adjust accordingly.

Organisations need to take a comprehensive approach when it comes to reducing cholera risk. Too often, they focus solely on employee well-being and health interventions such as vaccinations.

However, proper risk management extends beyond medical responses. Steps such as securing operations, supply and distribution channels, managing relationships with employees, customers and investors, advanced logistical planning to reduce disruption to production and supply chains and pre-emptive communication to key stakeholders are all equally important in minimising the economic losses from an outbreak.

Companies should at least join public-private networks of information sharing and trust-building in relevant locations across their operations.

Cholera outbreaks might be unavoidable in certain organisations but we can limit the destruction they cause. Companies that are more informed and prepared can better safeguard their resources while preserving their operations.

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