AK: Coronavirus crisis brings new opportunities to small businesses in Võru ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Võru's central squre.
Võru's central squre. Source: Villem Tormiste

The coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying economic crisis has brought new life to some small businesses in the southeastern Estonian town of Võru, and even led to the creation of new ones, primarily cafes and stores, often set up by people who lost their previous livelihood as the pandemic spread, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Saturday evening.

Manager of the Karamelli kohvik Kristina Noorsalu told AK that the crisis brought favorable opportunities to start and expand her business.

She said: "In fact, our dream had been for a very long time to create a lovely place in the city of Võru. As soon as we stepped in here, we saw it, and thought 'oh, this is the place' and did it. We thought that if carry it out it with our heart and soul, people will find their way to us."

Võru County was one of the most heavily-affected regions of Estonia in the initial spring wave of the pandemic. Business premises which had closed down during 2020 have also been snapped up by entrepreneurs in the town, population around 11,700.

Several other new cafes and stores opened up in Võru late in 2020. Andres Saare, owner of Haanimehe Puut crafts store, said that the coronavirus crisis had also offered him opportunities that were not available previously.

"The coronavirus opened the door for me; there was commercial space available which would never have been available without the coronavirus," Saare told AK.

Kuldar Leis, southeastern Estonia business adviser, said that people living in rural areas have not only been able to rely on outside help in the past, but also on their own hard graft.

Leis said: "It's been the case that when there is a crisis, things are bad for a while. But then those who have suffered though the crisis themselves – by being made redundant or whatever – many of them set up their own businesses. In a rural area like this, it is a very big plus that people have not stayed at home moping, but have started making work for themselves, and we hope that in the future, also for others."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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