Anna Basile stumbled upon what’s now her passion almost by chance when she was 25 and trying to find her path in life. Originally from Puglia in southern Italy, she moved to Turin where she joined a pottery course as a hobby – after nine months of training, she realized she had finally found her mission.
Despite finding her job incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, Anna admits that running a micro artisanal business in Italy can be challenging in normal circumstances and, when the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold, things got even worse. Italy, especially in its northern regions, is one of the countries that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with dire consequences for the local economy that is mainly made up of small and medium enterprises. When stringent lockdown measures were imposed, the hospitality sector was immediately affected and Anna’s business, whose main customers were restaurants, experienced severe losses.
However, Anna was quick to put in place a strategy to help her business survive the crisis. Firstly, she decided to limit her fixed costs by sharing her studio with another artisan who contributes to rent and other expenses. This means she’s not only saving money but also helping another small business. Secondly, she decided to shift her focus to the online market, improving her website and online store to reach a global audience.
Moving from large clients to individual customers, Anna realized she also needed to work on her business brand and image. These are ideas she had been considering for a while, but the crisis gave her the push to speed up the process. She is grateful to friends and family, whose support has been instrumental to overcome challenges. This includes her partner, an artist and web designer, who’s helping her to improve her website.
For the past six months, Anna has also been supported by MicroLab, YBI’s member in Italy, who connected her with a mentor. Working closely with her mentor, Anna has been able to rethink and adapt her business plan. She says:
"I’ve always felt I’m an artisan, but I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur. It’s thanks to MicroLab that I’ve changed the way I see myself."
These are incredibly difficult times for small business owners, where emotions play an important role. Moments of despair alternate with periods of regained energy and optimism. However, Anna is finding comfort in the community:
“What’s really helping me now is my love for what I do and the support I receive from people around me, especially fellow artisans with whom I share challenges and new ideas. It’s easier to solve problems and find solutions if we do it together.”
Anna is one of the many entrepreneurs who are receiving support through our COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery Programme with Google.org. MicroLab is delivering a range of services, including crisis hotlines, business counselling and mentoring. Find out more here.