The year 2020 is almost over; it was very difficult for the country and, of course, for the micro entrepreneurs supported within the frames of the project. We would like to remind that “Small Business Development Project 3″ is initiated and funded by bp and its partners in the Georgian Pipeline Company.
The coronavirus pandemic and the fight against it affected actually all businesses, regardless of their size and location: demand and number of customers had declined, there were difficulties in conducting business, additional costs etc. However, new opportunities have arisen along with the problems, and it is interesting to see how well the micro-entrepreneurs supported within the project managed to use these opportunities. We talked about this with several beneficiaries.
“My business is baking cakes and pastries,” says Tamar Gvelesiani (pastry shop, Meore Sviri, Zestaponi). There are four banquet halls in the village which supplied me with the customers. However, if I had ten orders per week earlier, now I have two orders at best. People switched to economy mode and the number of customers is very low. I had to think about attracting them. Through the project support it became clear to me that it would be very difficult to sustain without advertising on the Internet. I had not paid much attention to this before, sometimes I posted pictures of cakes on Facebook. But now I am more active, I regularly update my page and add new pictures with the help of my daughter. Clients now contact me through the social network too. In addition, I started offering delivery and my husband helps me with that. It turned out to be very comfortable for many clients.”
Tamar’s opinion is shared by Natia Sokhadze (rose production, Zeindari, Vani), who adds: “Representation in the social network is already necessary for the businesses like me. It is necessary to communicate with existing and potential buyers, to keep showing up. During the first lockdown, I thought about the delivery arrangement and it had been proved. Customers are satisfied because they do not have to move too much.”
Avtandil Gaprindashvili (greenhouse, Argveta, Zestaponi) sees the changes in his work from a different perspective: “The coronavirus pandemic made me think about expanding the product range. After the first wave I came to the conclusion that people started to pay more attention to healthy eating, so I planted broccoli in the fall, which is one of the main products in healthy eating. The experiment was successful, I got a good harvest, I already have a lot of buyers. And, most importantly, it is a different product, which is not widely represented in the market. ”
Listing all beneficiaries would take us far, as a whole the new normal impacted everyone more or less. Most of the supported entrepreneurs, especially those who provide services, have come to the conclusion that social networks are a powerful tool for attracting customers and they can not succeed without it. Most also believe that buyers and customers need to be more attentive to the customers, more actively contact and encourage them within reasonable limits since existing customers bring more money than new or potential ones.
In addition, most of them believe that businesses should definitely have a so-called “safety cushion” or 2-3 month cash supply, which would be enough to cover current expenses.
Overall, the project beneficiaries have made the necessary conclusions, they gradually adapt to the new normal and are hopeful for the future.