Sycamore Business Lab

COVID-19: Dealing with financial anxiety while social distancing

Welcome to SBL024 (Sycamore Business Lab): our periodic blog post where we address issues affecting you and your business.


While everyone experiences different levels of anxiety in any given situation, in these uncertain times, many will experience this in relation to money. Financial anxiety is basically a fear-based attitude towards money.

Recently, Gov. Sanwo-Olu gave a directive for all markets that are not selling foods, pharmaceutical products, water, medical equipment and other essential materials are to close down and that banks should enhance their online banking services to enable their customers to have transactions without visiting banking halls. This directive came as a result of the current pandemic ravaging the world. The learning on-the-go nature of this pandemic increases stress levels and anxiety because of the economic consequences which are currently raising fears of a recession on the grand scale. While it is right to move to restrict movement and hence, flatten the curve, we must reflect on the bottom of the pyramid where the majority of the Nigerians live in.


The masses in this space are largely unbanked and depend on a daily wage or even alms for their survival, they are the most vulnerable in the society alongside the old, poor and sick. The implication of this directive will have lasting implications and begs the question of how feasible is it for these daily wage earners to observe a lock down. These people live in very crowded, low hygiene environments without basic amenities such as indoor plumbing and running water. Containing the spread of the virus is urgent and on the front burner for the safety of lives. But do these people believe that their lives at risk? What is real to them is putting food on the table and since they have zero savings to fall back to, then they will continue their daily activities because they are driven by food insecurity.

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Perhaps some Nigerians are more aware of global implications of COVID-19 and can work remotely and can rely on emergency savings, but of the entire population, how many? The requirement to practice social distancing is a new concept to those at the bottom of the pyramid and here in lies the risk of contagion. Going out to secure their livelihood puts more people in danger but staying at home puts their life in danger.

Final thoughts

In this time of uncertainty, it is really our humanity that ties us together as this pandemic is widely experienced and has far reaching consequences. Stay at home for those cannot help flatten the curve so that this time can pass sooner.

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