For Small Businesses, Coronavirus May Mean Boom – or Bust

As countries continue to battle the coronavirus, many small businesses are facing financial hardship. Others report little impact – or even an increase in trade. These photos illustrate how routines have changed for workers around the world.

View Team
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Kampala, Uganda

Ssozi Benjamin repairs a bicycle at Tamale and Sons Auto Spares in Kyebando, a neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The Ugandan government has banned all private and public passenger transit due to the spread of the coronavirus, which has meant big business for bike shops.

“Previously I would work on eight clients a day,” says Ssozi, “but now I work on 23 and suspend others so the hours of curfew do not catch up with me.”

Along with the transport ban, Uganda has imposed a strict nationwide curfew, banned public gatherings and closed schools. As of May 2, Uganda has 85 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and no deaths.

Edna Namara, GPJ Uganda

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Erdenebulgan, Arkhangai Province, Mongolia

Namkhainyambuu Ganaavanzad and his son, Bat-Erdene, 11, work in the family’s saddle shop in Erdenebulgan, a town in northern Mongolia. With schools closed due to the spread of the coronavirus, Bat-Erdene is spending more time than ever working with his father.

Namkhainyambuu says the pandemic hasn’t affected his business.

“It might be hard for people to do their jobs because of the coronavirus, but I am continuing my routine job of making horse saddles,” Namkhainyambuu says.

Mongolia was one of the first countries to close its borders and implement restrictions on public institutions when the coronavirus started to spread in neighboring China in January. As of May 2, Mongolia has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Odonchimeg Batsukh, GPJ Mongolia

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Guadalajara, Mexico

Ulises Vélez waters plants in Colonia Americana, a neighborhood in Guadalajara. Vélez does maintenance work at houses and hotels throughout the city in western Mexico, but his hours have been cut since federal restrictions were put into place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Vélez says the business he works for requested economic support from the state government but has not received a response.

Officials in Mexico extended social distancing measures and limits on nonessential activities until May 30. Mexico has reported 20,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 2, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. A total of 1,972 people have died.

Maya Piedra, GPJ Mexico

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Khatgal, Khuvsgul Province, Mongolia

Batkhuyag Purevtsogt carefully stores the saddle, bridle and decorative equipment for his horse-drawn sleigh in Khatgal, a village on the shores of Lake Khuvsgul in northern Mongolia. The lake, known for its clear water, is a major tourist destination in Mongolia.

Each year, Khatgal hosts the Blue Pearl Ice Festival, a winter tourist draw with horse sleigh racing, fashion shows and sumo wrestling on ice. About 20,000 people from Mongolia and other countries attended the 2019 festival.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus, this year’s festival was canceled, leaving Batkhuyag and others who rely on income from the event unable to cover the cost of feeding their horses.

Dolgormaa Sandagdorj, GPJ Mongolia

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