Excerpt from the ABALOBI 2020 impact report:
The year 2020 proved significantly challenging for the small-scale fisher communities with whom we partner, with hardships and vulnerabilities compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown restrictions.
Our response at ABALOBI was three-pronged: respond, maintain and survive.
Respond: Operating the ABALOBI MARKETPLACE, including distributed cold chain and logistics infrastructure and an established communication network with fisher communities, meant that we could utilise our systems to respond – to share information on COVID-19, how to minimise transmission, and how to use personal protective equipment (PPE). We reconfigured our logistics infrastructure to distribute large numbers of masks and other PPE gear to rural fisher communities. Identifying the exacerbation of food insecurity by the first hard lockdown in South Africa, ABALOBI utilised its position as a registered essential services provider to facilitate the provision of fresh fish to communities in need.
Maintain: We had to pivot rapidly in the hope to maintain our impact, our relevance in small-scale fisher communities and our trust-based relationships. We were forced to adapt almost every aspect of our programme of work to continue serving fishers in a time of crisis. We rapidly diversified our market channels and grew from a Restaurant-Supported Fishery to a multi-channel, multi-layer ABALOBI MARKETPLACE supporting the livelihood of fishers who had lost all other forms of market access. Our approach proved successful, with monthly volumes on the ABALOBI MARKETPLACE more than doubling in 2020.
Survive: As a young organisation, our continual focus is scale and sustainability, to further our mission and drive impact. Despite the challenges of 2020, our team proudly gave it their all, and I am grateful to report that ABALOBI is not merely surviving, but thriving. Our international reach continues to grow, and our tech infrastructure has successfully been adapted for international deployment. Travel restrictions have prompted us to forge strong remote partnerships with like-minded organisations at international implementation sites, and we continue to receive numerous promising expressions of interest from across the globe.