You may have already read many stories about the impact of COVID-19, but we would like to start this short update with a good news. We are so thankful to God that somehow COVID did not cause so many deaths in Bulgaria. It seems that our small country was spared and we have had a fairly low number of incidents. On the other hand, as in many other countries, small businesses in Bulgaria are also suffering under the impact of the Pandemic. Many of them have slowed down or completely stopped their work, which inevitably lead to huge financial losses.
Additionally, as of March 16th, all students have stopped classroom classes and have transitioned to online education. All businesses related to students and located around schools and universities have shut down. Here are some examples how the quarantine impacted some of the small businesses we are working with:
One of our beneficiaries, who is a beekeeper and recently started a business with saffron has experienced a lot of damage and literally bankrupted. Because of the quarantine all the markets (farmers' and online) are closed. His main export was to China, but nowadays he is not able to export anywhere. Many of his partners for exporting saffron products to China, Italy and Turkey gave no hope for the future.He is now considering applying for another job to support his family.
Another beneficiary shared that since they mainly work with imported vehicles from Italy, the crisis in their business was much longer, because when Italy started the quarantine, this immediately affected the business by stopping the flow of cars to Bulgaria, and unfortunately this continues till now.
Our beneficiary who opened an AirBnB in Sofia last year also shared that their business has stopped and all future reservations have been canceled.
What did we do?
As an organization predominantly working with small and medium-sized businesses, we took this opportunity to help them in this time of economic crisis. As usual, in trouble times people search for help in places where they have not looked up before and suddenly they realize they could receive a free advice from us. Our imagination and creativity started working more and we were thinking how to best help these entrepreneurs.
We decided to not charge any forfeits for those of our beneficiaries who had to make monthly loan payments, but because of the quarantine they weren’t able to make such. We continued encouraging them and helping them with council mainly by phone and email instead of personal visits.
Unfortunately our plans to conduct trainings in March in North Bulgaria were mixed up. We had to cancel our fully organized and scheduled two trainings in the city of Varna and this cancelation cost us around 4100 USD (3755 EUR).
We are so grateful though that despite of everything we are continuing to work. In this time of crisis the small businesses need mentoring more than ever and your support can make the difference between these businesses shutting down, or keeping their doors opened for the future.THANK YOU that you are allowing us to help them when they most need support!