On March 26th at 3:17 I received my repeated and final COVID-19 test results – negative. This officially makes me one of the people to have successfully recovered from COVID-19, and the second in Latvia.
I was also one of the earliest cases in the country – case nr. 18. Immediately after returning from a 5-day trip abroad, I realized that I was exhibiting symptoms. I had returned on a Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning called the authorities and had tests taken. By the same time the next day, I received the news – I was positive.
Fortunately, I hadn’t left the house or met anyone since being back, mainly due to the fact that symptoms developed quite quickly – a blessing in disguise. Those symptoms were a dry throat, runny nose, headache, and a slight fever. They only lasted for about four days, but I remained in self-isolation until receiving the negative test results (obviously).
I’ve had a lot of time to sit and ponder the state of the world. Here are some of the conclusions I came to.
We have entered the next technological revolution – this is a time of opportunity
Crises are a catalyst for change – they shake things up, and push through advances that would otherwise have taken much longer to implement. For example, our Minister of Health recently stated on television that for years the medical community could not agree on the topic of allowing doctors to provide online, remote consultations. Now it took just one day. In his article for the Financial Times, Yuval Noah Harrari draws attention to unprecedented experiments that otherwise would never have received the green light – like taking an entire school system online.
TWINO, for one, was the result of the previous financial crisis of 2008. When traditional lending was no longer feasible for a large part of the population, alternatives are thought of. And now we’re a successful, thriving, established business. But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the crisis.
Now we’re seeing practically all aspects of life being brought into the digital realm. This is something new. Something new means that there’s an empty space, or a void, to be filled by enterprising individuals who have the vision to solve a problem in this new landscape. We’re seeing masses of individuals now working from home. While it provides opportunities, it will also certainly have its side effects. For example, some people will learn to appreciate the opportunity to go to an office even more than before.
Solidarity among competitors has never been as high – take this time to build partnerships
The United Nations has called for a ceasefire in conflict areas. And you know what? It’s worked, in part. For example, the Cameroon rebels have declared a coronavirus ceasefire, as a gesture of goodwill.
And while war is an extreme case, we’re seeing gestures of goodwill appear all over the place, including in the fintech environment. Companies that were previously bitter enemies are putting their competitive natures aside to work together to solve challenges they’re jointly facing in the industry.
For example, we’ve been in contact with Mintos to discuss how we can collaborate to build trust in the lending industry. We’ve also seen fintech companies pool together resources to increase their lobbying efforts.
This presents another major opportunity – to work together to accomplish more. As they say, strike while the iron is hot – forge those partnerships while the doors are open, and who knows, maybe afterward we’ll all be better off for it.
The economy is injured, and its crutches are young people
After having spent a mostly uneventful two weeks at home exhibiting comparatively mild symptoms of the virus, I’ve come to realize that while the economy is injured, the most likely demographic to keep it going is – healthy young people.
As we’re able to take on the risk with comparatively little effect, we’re the ones who should be activating and supporting those who really do have to stay home and isolate – the at-risk groups.
Making sure that businesses continue to run, that people continue to get paid, volunteering to bring necessities to the at-risk. In the long-run, with an active healthy young population that’s mobilized to work and support, we’d see a decreased adverse effect on the economy.
Some countries are already institutionalizing this. We see that the UK has implemented an opportunity for the healthy to volunteer for the NHS – their National Healthcare System. In 24 hours, 500,000 people applied. Locally, some solutions were attempted during the HackForce hackathon, such as the #PaliecMājas (or StayHome) initiative.
These initiatives are what’s going to make it possible for the economy to keep moving while letting the necessary demographics self-quarantine.
Getting better – one of the best things I’ve ever done
This experience has refocused priorities. Of everything I’ve done in life, getting better is one of the best. This has made me value having an active lifestyle. Staying active and fit before getting sick is what I believe got me through it. And re-starting physical activity as I regained my strength gave me the power to not give in to the virus.
If you’re a smoker, this is the time to quit. If you’re not active, this is the time to rethink your lifestyle. If you’re healthy and not doing anything to support society around you, this is the time to get off the couch.
Right now each of us has to evaluate their own capabilities and opportunities to help each other. Personally, I’ve realized that the best way I can support the economy is to launch a crowdfunding program through TWINO Ventures for industries and companies that were impacted by Covid-19. If you’re interested, please get in touch with me directly. We have to join our resources together to support those industries that otherwise would be successful and suddenly are left high and dry.