Almost a year into the pandemic, small businesses in Bulgaria are still not financially supported by the government.
With no furlough scheme in place, Bulgarians are left to find alternatives when it comes to their livelihood.
Ivelina Mihaleva, 48, owns a nail salon in Silistra, Bulgaria, which she was forced to close down for several months during the first national lockdown in March.
She received a letter saying that she was obliged by law to shut down any work until a second order comes into action, which has subsequently left her jobless.
Mrs Mihaleva said: ‘’There is no support in Bulgaria for the small business owners, I have not received any financial aid to compensate for the fact that I was left jobless for months.
“Moreover, I am a mother of two, and one of my sons studies in the UK, which does not make it any easier.’’
She believes that the government was not prepared for a pandemic and have not ensured proper support.
Our work may not be classified as essential, but it is to us and our families’’
In Bulgaria, the only people who have received financial aid are those who work in the hospitality industry due to the closure of all of the cafes and restaurants.
Mrs Mihaleva added: “Many of my colleagues in the beauty industry lost their jobs, some of them even lost their business because we receive no attention from the government.
“Our work may not be classified as essential, but it is to us and our families.’’
A spokesperson for the government’s finance office said:
‘’The state will help those working in establishments closed for coronavirus. A fixed amount of money will be granted to employees on an employment contract who are on unpaid leave due to the crisis. However we have no capacity at the moment to help all of the small business owners.’’
It was later confirmed that the government will actually finance small businesses via a voucher scheme. The candidates who would like to apply would have to do it electronically and wait for their application to be approved.
When contacted for further statement by Buzz, the governement’s press office did not respond.
Yet, Mrs Mihaleva had to find a way to support her family during this difficult time. Having worked as a nail artist for more than 15 years, Ivelina has always had interest in the art, especially drawing.
After initially starting for something to do during the lockdown, it later became an essential source of income.
“One good thing that the pandemic brought out of me, if we can talk about any positives, is that I started drawing.
“During the first lockdown in March, I was stuck at home with no income so I decided to give it a go, it turned out to be very relaxing and it gave me purpose – I even got to sell some of my paintings.’’
Now, months later her living room is filled with paintings that are waiting for a new owner.
“My inspiration is nature, right now, my favourite thing to draw is snow’’ – she adds.
Some of Ivelina’s drawings | Photo credit: Ivelina Mihaleva
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