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After COVID, Belgian Small Business Began to Bloom | Isabelle Nijs | GZERO Media

After COVID, Belgian small business began to bloom

Isabelle Nijs runs a hair salon in Begijnendijk, Belgium, about an hour’s drive to the northeast of Brussels. Nijs struggled to keep her business going through the pandemic during lockdowns and the lack of customers that brought. Rents and insurance premiums continued going up, but she didn’t get any financial support to meet the rising costs. Now, with people coming out of COVID restrictions, her business has begun to bloom … only to be impacted yet again, this time by the war in Ukraine. Now, she’s also dealing with supply chain issues, with prices going up and quality going down, not to mention long wait times.

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Waiting for Foot Traffic to Return in Tokyo | Small Business Owner Shizuka Takahashi

Waiting for foot traffic to return in Tokyo

Shizuka Takahashi wants Tokyo’s foot traffic to return. Having face-to-face interactions with her customers means everything to her — in fact, the desire to interact with people is why she opened her Tokyo shop, PuRe Juice Bar. She got the idea while living in New York City, where people know and love smoothies. In Tokyo, however, the juice culture is less common. Takahashi opened in 2019 only to be hit by reduced sales as a result of COVID-19. By learning to market herself throughout the pandemic, and with government aid, she’s been able to keep her company afloat. Now she’s looking forward to helping her Japanese customers get hooked on healthy juice drinks.

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COVID's Lessons About Humanity | Annabelle Santos, Small Business Owner

COVID's lessons on humanity for Annabelle Santos, small business owner

Inspiration struck Annabelle Santos when she struggled to find any products that could help soothe her baby girl’s eczema. Having grown up around plants and flowers, and with a background in biochemistry, Santos set out to make her own formula to help her daughter. Now she brings her mixtures of fruits, olive oils, and herbs to customers through her company, Spadét, which she founded in 2014. For years, she worked on her products from her home kitchen in New York City. Then, just before the pandemic hit, she got her big break: product placement in the whole northeast region of Whole Foods. In fact, her products shipped out to the stores just a week before lockdown. The pandemic was really tough on her business, but grants helped her keep afloat, and she’s looking forward to meeting with and healing customers now that restrictions have lifted.

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Annie Gugliotta

2021: Groundhog Day in a G-Zero world

Did 2021 actually happen, or are we still stuck in 2020? So many things seem to have barely changed this year. After all, we’re entering yet another holiday season worried about a fresh wave of the pandemic, and uncertain about what comes next for our economies and our politics.

In a lot of ways, the past 365 days feel like a year of unfulfilled promise. Let’s have a look back at what did, and did not happen in 2021.

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Annie Gugliotta

Will we finally ditch COVID in 2022?

Many of us, at least in the advanced economies, thought the pandemic would be over sometime in 2021. Vaccines worked, and a lot of people got them. Restrictions were relaxed, and things started to return to normal. But then came the virus variants, which threw a wrench into hopes of a speedy recovery. What'll happen next year?

Here are three things that could threaten the global post-COVID comeback.

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