Two entrepreneurs share what it's like to start a business in the midst of a global pandemic

A global pandemic has caused stress and uncertainty for a lot of businesses but some entrepreneurs are not letting COVID-19 stand in the way of their brand new ventures.

Two Calgary entrepreneurs aren't letting COVID-19 stop them from new ventures

Abbey Claro opened her ice cream shop in Calgary in the midst of the pandemic. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A global pandemic has caused stress and uncertainty for a lot of businesses but some entrepreneurs are not letting COVID-19 stand in the way of their brand new ventures.

There is a steady line of customers, salivating at their choices of home-made ice cream flavours offered at Abbey's Creations in Montgomery. 

It's the opposite of what owner Abbey Claro was afraid of when she launched the business three weeks ago.

"We're in COVID-19, we're not going to make money, how can we survive, how can we feed our family," Claro said.

Abbey's Creations was supposed to open in March just as Calgary called a state of local emergency and closed non-essential businesses. 

Abby Claro launched her new ice cream shop in Calgary despite the pandemic. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Claro, who always wanted to be her own boss, moved to the city from the Philippines in 2017.

She worked in various fast food restaurants, saving and planning for this moment. 

Now she's starting her own venture in a global pandemic, when many seasoned businesses are struggling. 

"I see at other shops, like [before] COVID-19, lining up until the door — that is what I want in my shop, too," Claro said. 

Up the road in Parkdale, another new business is popping up. 

Prasad Vishwasrao started serving gourmet coffee and food at Nove Nine on June 9. 

Prasad Vishwasrao opened Nove Nine on June 9. He's hopefully that after months cooped up indoors, Calgarians are ready to spend money. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Vishwasrao has a background in hotel management and accounting and said starting a new business in the middle of a global pandemic isn't that scary. 

He believes after being cooped up at home for weeks, people are ready to spend money. 

"So if a new business is opening, it will flourish right away instead of waiting for at least three months to start building up and those kinds of things. People are more curious now to go out and try," Vishwasrao said.

Adam Legge, president of the Business Council of Alberta, said he's happy to see new businesses. 

"We've taken a huge hit to to the economy from a spending standpoint and employment standpoint, so any businesses that are willing to give it a go and create jobs and get some economic activity again, is great news." 

An uphill battle

Legge said it can be difficult to market a business in a time of physical distancing, when people aren't out and about as much, so he said it's important to focus on driving demand. 

"People will go to the places they trust or they know, they do have much more of an uphill battle given they don't have a track record and they have to work on building that trust and confidence." 

Claro said despite her worries, she has faith in her business and a passion for making ice cream.

"This is my dream. If you have courage, go for it."


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