The full interview in Bulgarian can be found here: http://www.economic.bg/bg/news/12/biznesat-tryabva-da-pravi-ezhechasno-analizi-i-da-reagira-adekvatno-na-krizata.html
Below is a translated transcript
At the initiative of the Zhechko Kyurkchiev brothers, Zhechko and Krasen, owners of Ficosota and TESY, the Chamber of Commerce-Shumen opened a donation account to raise funds that will be used to limit the spread of the coronavirus on the territory of the municipality. The two entrepreneurs were the first to finance the campaign with BGN 100,000 and called for the involvement of local businesses. The money from the bill will be used to buy supplies and supplies, medical equipment, protective clothing, recruiting volunteers and more. What was the motivation for such an initiative, what measures to limit the negative consequences for the business should be taken and what are the forecasts for the emergency situation, we asked Zhechko Kyurkchiev, manager and owner of TESY.
– Mr Kyurkchiev, Ficosota and TESY have launched an initiative worthy of admiration – donate funds and supplies in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus in the Shumen Region. Why did you decide to invest the time and money in such an initiative? We know that there are still no positive developments in this area.
– It is more correct to say that no cases have been identified yet. It is not certain that there are any more in the area. My brother and I realized that what is happening to us is something that can only be compared to a new world war as a way of manifestation and as a sacrifice. When you ask yourself who are the frontline warriors who need to sacrifice themselves to help us emerge victorious from this crisis, the answer is clear – these are Bulgarian doctors, nurses, laboratory assistants and all hospital staff. We know how dynamic this situation is going to be, so we decided that it was crucial to accumulate funds available; to provide for the needs of people working in the Shumen health system without going through the long and not so clear path of PPA procedures; to help people in the city, and especially the people who work in our group. The mayor of the municipality, Mr. Hristov responded, as did Mr. Tonchev on behalf of BIA, who were the first to contribute to the “Help Now” Fund.
– Does your idea meet the support of other entrepreneurs in the field?
– I believe he will. Today is the first day of opening an account. We will see results at the end of the day, but I am optimistic – the entrepreneurs in Shumen, who I know directly or in absentia, are people with responsibility and vision. I know they will help now!
– Do you think it can become a national initiative and are there any opportunities and opportunities for the Bulgarian business to allocate funds for such expenses at this moment?
– I think there is such a campaign already. I know that the Bulgarian business cares about its people and I believe that if such a campaign is organized at the national level, it will also have a good supporting effect now.
– How do you view the declared state of emergency in Bulgaria and the planned closure of almost all retail outlets in the country? Do you think this is the right course to deal with the infection?
“The only correct move and a little late. We introduced crisis measures at the companies in our group more than three weeks ago – we purchased safety equipment, started daily temperature control, made and distributed leaflets to all employees on how to protect themselves. When it comes to the state it is different, complex, difficult to manage and control, but yes, we see that almost all European countries do it these days.
– The closure of a large part of the business will inevitably affect the economy and the standard of living of the people. How long will it take to recover from this crisis, according to your projections?
“If I had the fortune teller, I would answer that question. But that is why it is important today to manage the business in such a way as to minimize the damage as much as possible – and damage will be imminent.
– What measures do you think the state should take to support business and employment? Certain measures have already been announced, but they seem too timid.
– The measures must be adequate to the needs. Today it is not yet clear what the total damage will be, but the state must prepare for support in the coming days, with a maximum of weeks. The specific needs will become clearer – we see what is happening in the tourism industry, hotels and restaurants. They will all pull the supply chain down and this crisis will affect food and beverage, service and construction producers even. So no one should be fooled – the bad is yet to come, but the situation must be analyzed every hour and adequate decisions made. All this will end one day and we will return to the familiar and preferred rhythm of work and social contacts.
– How is your business emergency specifically affected and what do you plan to counteract? Are you planning staff redundancies or will you use the accumulated reserves?
– To date, our productions are busy and we only register small delays in some deliveries of raw materials that do not affect us. This is likely to change next week if the movement of trucks in Europe is blocked. We are very diversified as a business, but when all markets close, which seemed “practically impossible” two months ago, we will take appropriate action, believing that the last thing we will do is release people.
– Every crisis, besides closing doors, opens new opportunities. Where do you see them? Can such an emergency turn out to be a generator for the digital leap of Bulgarian business, administration and Bulgarians in general?
– I don’t know what you mean by digital jump. There will certainly be opportunities. Above all, it is important to assess the importance of having partners close to you, not in Asia, to rely on at such times. Price is not the most important element in a crisis situation, and partnership is invaluable these days. Regarding digitalization – you can sell a laundry detergent or boiler online, as well as any other goods, but you cannot produce it without the materials being touched by human hands.
– In addition to the ordeal for all, where do you see the challenges in the short and long term?
– Every crisis leaves a mark, both socially and business-wise. I believe that this may be the catharsis that will make us differently evaluate all that we have done today and come out wiser and more purposeful in setting the most important priorities for our society and our future.