The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the global economy. But the health crisis has also created unexpected opportunities for some small and medium enterprises.
Almost 2,00 new businesses opened up in the second quarter of the year in Brussels as well as 11,000 in Flanders. This is according to Unizo, the association that supports the self-employed and SMEs in the region.
Plant-based cafö Buddy Buddy opened less than a year ago in Brussels’ Louise district, and during the first lockdown it became like a community centre, the owners told Euronews.
“We could open for two hours a day and people would queue, and we could do a lot of business in a few hours,” says co-founder Matt Samra.
But it is not take-away coffee that kept the owners on their toes.
Matt and Julien filled a gap in the market for peanut butter. It began with them making it together at home to them opening a brand new atelier to cater to demand.
“While the cafe suffered, the nut butter side of the business exploded,” said Samra.
“We also had a lot of customers who were baking at home and then they would tell their friends and share on social media […] We went from making hundreds of jars a month to thousands”.
Buddy Buddy was not the only business to flourish during the pandemic.
Flanders based dance teacher Katarzyna Morton has seen her local dance and fitness classes in Leuven expanding to an online global community in 2020.