We all know tragic stories of small businesses that closed during the pandemic, and people who suffered desperately. But what do statistics reveal? It is surprisingly difficult to pin down.

Does it matter? It matters for policy, as government allocates resources to areas of most need or greatest return. It matters for democracy, as we hold government accountable for tax deployment. It matters for businesses judging how much success or failure originates externally. It matters to agencies such as the African Management Institute (AMI), benchmarking our work with firms at risk...

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