It has been apparent for some time that the health crisis caused by Covid-19 is triggering problems in all other corners of life. Most notably, economists predict that we are entering a phase which will mirror the Great Depression. Across the globe, businesses are struggling to keep afloat as people remain confined to their homes.
The Monaco Economic Board has kept a keen eye on the situation in the Principality, as experts predict that neighbouring city Nice has lost €3 billion since the beginning of lockdown. To match personal stories to the various figures floating around online, Monaco Tribune spoke to local business owners in Monaco to see how they are coping.
Caroline Olds, Caroline Olds Real Estate
About Caroline Olds Real Estate
I opened my company ten years ago, and now we are based on rue de Millo in the Condamine. I have six great girls in my team, who are all extremely dedicated and professional. We do a lot of business with the English speaking community in Monaco, having many contacts and potential clients come to us from London. However, we deal with Monegasques too as we sell and rent residential and commercial properties. I have been working in the region for more than 20 years, with more than 35 years of experience now.
Life under lockdown
I’ve personally enjoyed taking a break from the high pressure and hard work that has taken up my life for many years. I’ve been able to exercise more, cook, spend time with my children, read. I have, of course, helped some of my clients and friends who are in higher-risk groups, or alone, with shopping, deliveries and general day to day tasks like the post over the past weeks. I’m now very keen to get back to work and my routine as soon as possible, hopefully on 3rd May.
Support provided by the Principality
The Principality has been incredibly supportive from day one. The Monaco Economic Board reached out to us, and the government through our accountant and the Chambre Immobilière. I’ve been very impressed with the support offered and the speed of their response. My business doesn’t rely on day to day transactions, and hopefully, we will make up the business lost later this year. Given our low-cost base, I’m lucky.
I was very concerned about the virus early on and closed my office a couple of days before the official lockdown. Some of my employees travel to Monaco, and I was worried about their safety. The government is helping us with the payment of basic salaries, but bonuses will have to be earned later this year. I’m confident that the market will recover very quickly from the shutdown, in Monaco and around the world. We have learnt so many lessons and of course, we must never forget the loss of so many loved ones. Fortunately, the property business in Monaco is resilient. I expect we will finish the year successfully. My advice would be, keep going and get better at it, as simple as that.
Krista Madden, In your element festival
The festival was initially planned to take place in Monaco on the 4th April. Sadly, due to the outbreak, we had to cancel and are waiting to announce another date we can go ahead for later in the year in Monaco. With everyone being at home and using social media so much I thought it would be an excellent way to reach out to our community who wanted to come to the festival by doing the classes and workshops on Instagram Live. I held it the weekend we were due to host the festival. Naturally, there was a compromise with the way they were presented, in kitchens and living rooms by our coaches and experts, but everyone enjoyed them. We all felt connected on screen on our phones, and the energy was very positive over the weekend, it was a great way to spend the time in lockdown. It was a great way to reach a wider audience online who were in different countries, and we received a lot of fantastic feedback.
Connecting with festival participants
When I decided to hold the event over the weekend online, I spoke to all our coaches and arranged to hold classes that would be most helpful for what we are going through at the moment. So the lessons were adapted, classes like nutrition and meal planning at home, ways to boost your immune system, breath-work and meditations to ease anxiety and stress. There was just a lot of planning with timings with everyone, but I’m an organised person, so this is what I do well.
We do have a festival in the UK planned for September in Belvoir Castle, this spectacular location where they film the Netflix series The Crown. The festival will be over the 19th/20th Sept inside the castle and the beautiful grounds. Classes will include workshops that can be done outside like forest bathing, foraging, flower arranging – connecting with nature. I hope this date is far enough in the future that we will be able to hold it and soon be able to set a new date for Monaco for early October. We continue to do live classes on our Instagram page throughout the lockdown. We want to give useful, helpful and entertaining classes to our audience and grow our followers so more people can come to our events.
Advantages and disadvantages of going digital
Apart from the great feeling of meeting up with all the experts in person and seeing everyone enjoy the event with us, I lost sponsorships and ticket sales. The only way I could envision keeping a sense of community and connecting with everyone was to do something online. It was a last-minute decision, and holding classes on Instagram Live turned out to be a fun way to keep the name of the event in people’s memory. There was no financial gain in doing this, so as a business, this has no short term gain. Still, you would hope that it means that the audience who watched us would want to attend an event with us when we can eventually do this safely. We gained a good amount of new followers across our social media channels. This helps when we start to market and sell tickets for events, as we have now increased our potential customer base. I have continued to host live classes on our page with experts to bring more people to our page and showcase what we can offer and give information and inspiration to our audience and hope that stay loyal to us.
Overcoming the crisis
The events industry is one of the worst-hit during this time, and it is even more challenging to try to plan for the future as we still do not know when we can hold another event. I am still trying to speak to sponsors and companies again to get involved in our September event, as I do already have a great programme of speakers and coaches. Getting brands to respond and commit is the challenge. I would advise if you find companies that would like to work with you but are scared to commit, at least try to work out your partnership so you know what kind of funding you could have if it goes ahead, but they do not pay you any money until you know for sure it can go ahead. This way, they are not investing in you with uncertainty, and you do have some kind of security financially. Is there something you can create online that promotes what you do that can bring in some sort of income? Can you team up with a company that is thriving and offer them something of value with content from your artist or people who are part of your event community? Is there a course you can build or skill you can offer at a subscription to your customer?
Albert Nahas, MOCO
Monte Carlo juices experts
MOCO first started by importing Nam Hom coconuts from Thailand. This quickly created a market for healthy products which naturally led to organic cold-pressed juices. It has now been one year since we’ve been working with organic supermarkets, luxury hotels, boats and home delivery.
Adapting to lockdown
Quarantine has been a good time for the team and me to reflect on what new products to launch soon. I enjoy spending a bit of time at home as I usually am always moving around and travelling. We organised several donations to key Monaco organisations such as the Hospital as we wanted to help them in our own way. Cold-pressed juices are not a regular donation, and I hope that everyone who received our boxes enjoyed them.
Support provided by the Principality
The Principality has put forward a few measures for businesses to help them spread their running costs over a few months. We have decided not to apply to this help as managed to continue operating somehow normally and believe this should go to the most unfortunate ones.
Life under lockdown
I personally respect these measures as much as possible. I have to do a few meetings but try to limit them as much as possible. I’d rather not expand on the benefits of the crisis as every crisis creates specific opportunities for businesses. The most important is to make sure everyone is healthy, and “regular life” can start again, even if realistically speaking things will be very different.
MOCO plans to expand within the next six months. We have started distributing our products in other European countries and will make sure our presence in France becomes even more substantial.