Pandemic throws businesses into troubled waters

Business owners are now all walking a tight rope and are trying to make a living with the trifle earnings they can make of their dwindling businesses

Business owners are now resorting to alternative businesses in a hope to rope in fringe incomes

Tshering Yangki

The pandemic has taken toll on businesses all over Bhutan. It has caused massive dislocation to many business people. Business owners are now all walking a tight rope and are trying to make a living with the trifle earnings they can make of their dwindling businesses.

Jigme Dorji, a hotel owner in Phuentsholing who has been in business for almost four years, said that prior to the pandemic his business was operating on huge profit but he cannot say it is the same now.

He said, “Currently our hotel is operating as a quarantine facility with the help of the government, leaving us with enough money just to pay the rents and necessities for my family.”

With no profit from the hotel business, the 50-year-old has now resorted to a new business, home delivery of fried chickens because people prefer to stay indoors with the virus now. It is also a profitable business with the new lifestyle people around the world has adopted.

A grocery shop owner in Gelephu said, “I am the bread winner of my family and with no income at all during lockdown from the business. My family would have had a tough time but luckily I got a preorder to weave that’s how we managed our household.”

With online shopping gaining momentum in Bhutan, people now find it tiresome to walk-in and shop the traditional way.  Many opt for online shopping which has reduced the number of customers lately and created tremendous loss on her business.

Her grocery shop keeps running on negative trend as for now she is going to continue weaving till the situation becomes stable to resume her business.

As for Gasa, it is a small community and there were not many customers before the pandemic but it did affect the business there as well, as the shops had to be closed at 9 pm exactly as per the covid protocols.

A woman in her 50s who run a grocery and bar stated, “People visiting the shop during the day remained the same in my case. However, the sales during the night dropped since the villagers came to drink after a tiring day to relax at night since the shop had to be closed as per COVID-19 norms.”

She further explained her difficulties of restocking goods for business.” We cannot get what we want from Phuentsholing like before. Travelling is also not safe and we have to follow many protocols, which is not very convenient. On top of that, the prices of the grocery items have drastically increased incurring more loss than revenue.”

 “I was selling only foreign goods and with the pandemic I have come to realize that it is important for us to promote local goods as well. I am now thinking about making homemade products and doing business.”