On 22 April 2020, we organized another Alumni Online Network Meeting to reconnect with the Aspen Central Europe community, learn about the initiatives and experience across the network, inspire and support each other. This time, we looked at initiatives focusing on the topic of Small and Medium Businesses with a special focus on Solidarity and Reinvention of Strategies arising as a response to the current situation. We discussed several examples of how online campaigns can support small brands and businesses, how technology and apps are changing the way we shop, and highlighted the positive examples of helpful activities.
The kick-off remarks were made by Olga Bureš Vrbíková who initiated a campaign #malynakupvelkapomoc / #shopsmallhelpbig supporting small brands in the current uneasy situation, which aims, among other things, to teach people about alternatives to shopping. A great number of brands and shops are involved in the campaign, which is truly making a difference in their income and survival.
The next speaker was Pavlína Louženská who talked about the new app Call to shop which reacted to shop owners missing human contact with their customers. In the times of the pandemic, shop owners can talk to and help their customers with selecting the right items and purchasing through video-calls. Pavlína is also active in the community of over 21k people #holkyzmarketingu, which she founded. They are helping those who lost jobs in the current crisis and matching them through algorithms with vacant positions, being successful in matching these companies with applicants.
The last kick-off speaker was Sara Boutall, who introduced her new project which she joined alongside another AYLP alumnus Patrik Juránek, Startup Disrupt, which is centralizing and bringing together all the start-up initiatives in the Czech Republic. Her second project is Spojilo se Česko (cooperating together with AYLP alumni Josef Müller and Valery Senichev) in which they aim to collect all the stories of the success and failures of the pandemic efforts.
In the following debate, we discussed the situation in Poland with Alessandro Tofani, curator and board member of Polish Global Shapers Warsaw Hub working on the development of the local community. The participants also emphasized the importance of our mental health and taking care of ourselves, misinformation and also the lack of information and translations for international communities.