Foreign business owners feel a little safer in Slovakia than in their home countries

The Slovak Spectator spoke to three foreign business owners and a nonprofit director in Bratislava about the effects of COVID-19 on their work.

Kerim Hudson, co-owner of PAKTA, is trying to help others by offering face masks and the patterns for those who want to make them at home.Kerim Hudson, co-owner of PAKTA, is trying to help others by offering face masks and the patterns for those who want to make them at home. (Source: PAKTA Studio)

While many foreigners feel safer in Slovakia, where the spread of COVID-19 is more controlled than their respective home countries, the future remains uncertain, especially for foreign business owners. The Slovak government is providing economic relief for those who have been hit the hardest, but some small businesses and nonprofits worry whether they will still be in business after the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are prepared to start from scratch.

The Slovak Spectator spoke to Ben Pascoe, owner of cafe Next Apache; Kerim Hudson, co-owner of backpack maker PAKTA; Jose Vintimilla, co-owner of Prečo Bistro; and Nicolas Giroux, co-founder of nonprofit KC Bystro.

TSS: COVID-19 measures have led to the closure of most businesses in Slovakia. Have you completely halted all of your business activities or are you still carrying out some (ex: take-away, volunteering, online sales)?

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Ben Pascoe (BP): My cafe has been closed, as with all restaurants and cafes, since March 13. We don’t offer takeaway or delivery because we are not that kind of cafe. Luckily, the cafe is close to my home, so we use it as a place for my kids to go to school. It gets them out of the house and gives my wife quiet time at home for her work.

Kerim Hudson (KH): We are quite fortunate that a lot of our business was already based online, so it hasn’t really forced us to halt or drastically change anything. However, we have been trying to take some time and use the resources we have to help others, by offering face masks and the patterns for those who want to make them at home. We’re also trying to share some of the things we are doing at home that others could potentially do as well during the quarantine, such as replanting vegetable scraps.

Jose Vintimilla (JV): We are trying to make our concept work on a delivery menu with little success because people are looking for a proper menu, which we do not offer.

Nicolas Giroux (NG): Bystro has been completely closed since March 10. We have stopped our activities in the physical place, but some of our most active members are hanging out informally online on a regular basis. The core team is also working on things we have not had the time to do so far like translations of articles for our website. We are now planning to come up with a new manifesto and update our official statuses.

TSS: Do you think the Slovak government is providing adequate aid for businesses/ the self-employed struggling due to COVID-19?

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