Business in the times of coronavirus

SHERAB DORJI | Thimphu

Choki Wangmo, 25, who owns a general shop at Gelephu Thromde wishes her rents would have been waived as her shop was closed for almost a month. She said the lockdown has affected her family a lot as they solely depend on the business for survival.

Another businesswoman, Pema shares that if the pandemic prolongs, then they will have to find some other alternative to live on. “If the pandemic prolongs, I will have to sell my shop at a low price as there aren’t many customers these days, and fetching the rent is very challenging,” she said.

The only hope for Pema and her family is to lift the lockdown and the situation to become normal like before or else she wishes the government could help her compensate with the rents.

Sonam Peldon Tamang, a 34-year-old who also owns a general shop in Gelephu Thromde shares a similar predicament. She said, “Our business is affected as people coming from other dzongkhag have reduced drastically.”

She said that the lockdown has even made life very difficult for her family to survive and she wishes the pandemic could end in the coming days. 

Sonam says that if the situation turns for the worse, then she will go back to her village as the earning in the town will be very difficult then.     

Kencho Dema, 30, who runs a restaurant at Sarpang shares she is fine with whatever the government is doing and she is ever ready to act in tandem with the government.

However, she added that paying rent of Nu 22,000 for the restaurant and her house is very challenging. 

Likewise, Dema who also owns a restaurant at Thimphu is as frustrated as any other business owner where she even considers herself unlucky. She said, “I am an assistant cook at my 5-star resorts but because of the pandemic I was temporarily laid off until the pandemic situation improves around the globe.” 

She said that opening a restaurant with her small savings was her only solution in accordance with her profession and her interest. However, the pandemic hit her hard and put a dent in all her hopes.

She said, “I am very grateful at this time to my government but I really hope the house owner could also waive some rent because without the operation of my business for a month how do I pay the rent.”

A 33-year-old beauty parlor owner, Sonam Yangki Tamnag also shares a similar pain. “Of course, the pandemic has affected us to a great extent,” she said.

Like Dema, the 33-year-old also invested her small savings in the business thinking to eke out a living but unfortunately, it didn’t favor her as the pandemic dragged on.

She said, “Before the pandemic, there was little hope with my business but now with the pandemic, it is very hard to survive in Thimphu especially during the numerous lockdowns.”

She said that people who got their rents waived even with a certain percentage are lucky. However, for those tenants like her who make the full payment of rent even during this pandemic, it is a nightmarish situation. 

Pema 39, from Thimphu who also owns a saloon shares similar concerns. She said that even during the time of pandemic their house owner is not willing to waive the rent even when her business is closed. 

A vegetable vendor, Kharka Tamang from Tsirang said that he could manage to supply the vegetables even during the inconvenient situation and felt proud as he made his own small contribution to the nation.

He said, “The outbreak of the virus is expected as we wait. I did my part and I don’t bother much about my business as we have to go on living.”

Meanwhile, Pema Dorji, a businessman from Phuentsholing shares he can feel the pain of all the affected businesses in the country.

He shares from his experience that all the affected business owners across the country will have to pull their socks together and be resilient to face the tougher times and consequences hereafter.