Latviski English По-русски
Monday 25.06.2018 | Name days: Maiga, Milija

Businessmen share stories: ‘surviving’ and taking risks in Latvia when starting a business

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe silent period – the time for Christmas wishes – has begun. Snow covers Tukums, and the city slowly becomes white. Everything is quiet at Pils ielā. The phone rings, interrupting a quiet moment of watching snowflakes fall under the light of a lantern. «You’re here for us, aren’t you?» BNN goes to interview manager of Merci Cafe Anija Rabkeviča (23) and cafe’s founder Rinalds Pluģis (22). They tell about their experience of ‘surviving’ in Latvia.

«Pure coincidence»

Inside the café light jazz is playing, Christmas mood everywhere. The conversation takes place right where clients usually dine. When asked how the two ended up together in the same room, they said: «We both knew we wanted our own business. The realization came three years ago. We nurtured our dream and considered opportunities. But we never imagined it would be a catering business. We call it pure coincidence – we ended up in the right place at the right time.»

«We wanted stability, to work for ourselves. We wanted to make our own fortune. I remember we saw an advertisement regarding the sale of this place. We decided then and there – we want it, we will do it,» said the company’s manager. She added: «We made the decision in a week. In two weeks we started working together.» Because both study business, they had no doubt they would make it.

The young businessmen reveal that everything happened fast, forcing them to make split-second decisions. The financial side of things was discussed as well: «Of course, first we had to get a considerable amount of money within a week. Knowing that this was not some expensive purchase in a supermarket, we considered different loan options. We had to act quickly.»

The two businessmen say the fact that the deal was good was a lucky break. The two then pooled their funds, families helped as well. They also took a loan from a bank.

Because the place was already a café, the two took it over, adding their own vision to the mix. At the same time, they admit that the main condition of the previous owners was – handing the place over to creative people. «I think we were the best candidates,» said the manager.

The company’s founder proudly said: «Anija has a creative spirit. I’m more focused on keeping her feet on the ground. We are a team – we complement one another in life and in business.»


The most difficult part when starting a business was showing the main idea to our customers – to feel like you’re at home, that there is no reason to rush a meal. «It is hard explaining one’s warm feelings to another. This was the most difficult part. And I’m not even mentioning the heaps of paperwork and other technicalities,» noted Rabkeviča.

«It is also important to keep in mind that in a small town, especially in the cold season, there are only so many people outside. This is why we try individually approaching each person,» said the company’s founder.

The manager continues about everyday life: ‘Whenever we perform orders with suppliers or go procuring products, we see and feel the price rise. Inflation has a very real effect on catering businesses, including us.’

The harsh truth is that businessmen are often forced to search for alternatives – replacing local producers with foreign ones.

«We are sensitive to price changes in groups of products important to us. This is a painful matter. The harsh and sad reality is that no matter how patriotic we are, we often glance at offers provided by our neighbours, which are often more economically favourable. The price is important if we want to survive and make some money in the end,» said Pluģis.

Rabkeviča mentioned several survival criteria young entrepreneurs should keep in mind if they want to survive: complying with hygiene requirements, following clients’ habits, planning approach for clients, carefully following expenses to make sure they do not exceed income, as well as taking risks.

Finding a place in a small town

«I think we are quite unique in Tukums. We cannot compare ourselves to other places in this town because we aim towards variety. Knowing that this is a small town and that people here have their favourite places, the question was – how do we convince people to come to us,» the manager said.

When asked how the café is special in this town, Rabkeviča said: ‘I would say our secret is that we offer meals from different cultures – we present new meals and experiences to the town.’

It should be said that the founder of the company mentioned that client’s education is also one special service the café offers. «We know that not all people can afford to travel to other countries. This is why we offer clients a taste of Italy, Greece and other countries.»

He adds that both of them have had opportunities to experience life in other countries. Anija’s sister lives in New York. Because of that, she has memories of tasting all kinds of dishes and seeing all kinds of places – something she wants to pass on to clients.

Long-term strategy – focus on tourism

When asked how they see the future and what they have in store for their café, both said: «We cannot keep living in a dreamland. We are realists and we understand the winter period is usually quiet. This is why it is worth using Latvia’s fantastic climate, advantages offered by Tukums, and work on developing tourism.»

«Because we opened up in the middle of summer, we noticed influx of tourists to the city. Although our long-term strategy includes attraction of tourists, it does not mean they are our target audience.»

The manager of Merci Café said they already have plans for tourist attraction: «After two months of starting the business, we took part in a contest organized in Tukums. We won co-financing to help realize our idea, which is focused on catering and tourism.»

She also said that the project itself at the stage of realization. Together with Tourism Information Centre they search for information and develop a sustainable plan to promote Tukums from a different perspective. «We hope this project will have been successfully implemented by spring next year.»

In the end, the two businessmen said: «We wish strength and resilience to all entrepreneurs in Latvia. We wish for people to return to Latvia and find jobs here.»


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Parliament makes first step towards disclosing ex-KGB agents

The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, June 21, backed an initiative by the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance to disclose now classified information on former agents of the Soviet KGB who voluntarily admitted their collaboration.

BNN summary of the week: CPCB visit to Saeima; ministers survive no-confidence votes; DTV case ends with mild penalties

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Ruling; Future; Trust; Measures; Calendar.

SRS uncovers numerous violations more than half of inspected companies

State Revenue Service’s Tax Control Office performed a total of 305 thematic inspections of employers in Latvia in Q1 2018. Authorities recorded violations in 171 inspections, according to information from SRS.

Third level pension plan deposit volumes reach new record value

Residents’ interest for pension savings remains high. The volume of deposits made to private pension funds in the first three months of 2018 has reached a new historic peak: a total of EUR 16.5 million has been paid to 3rd level pension accounts, which is 11.6% more when compared to the same period of 2017, as reported by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Petrol station network in Latvia caught performing fraudulent activities with diesel fuel

State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Police have uncovered and put an end to a fraudulent scheme with diesel fuel performed by some network of petrol stations in Latvia, as confirmed by the service.

Kaimiņš: I believe CPCB is performing a political order

In the evening of Thursday, 21 June, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau released three people previously detained as part of a criminal process regarding possible illegal funding of KPV LV party – Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš, his colleague Atis Zakatistovs, and businessman Viesturs Tamužs.

Latvia’s parliament conceptually supports new sanction regulations

On Thursday, 21 June, Saeima supported in the final reading amendments to the Law on International Sanctions and National Sanctions of the Republic of Latvia that are meant to improve sanction regime regulations to ensure efficient application of national and international sanctions, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Storm in Tallinn floods streets, cuts Croatia-Argentina match short on TV

A rain storm has hit northern Estonia on Thursday, flooding some streets in the capital Tallinn, damaged buildings and badly affected the broadcast of an interesting World Cup game.

American banks tested for financial stress show positive results

The U.S. has performed banking stress tests and found that the 35 largest banks operating in the country have enough funds on hand to sail safely through a severe financial crisis.

Saeima fires judge for coming to work in a drunken state

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s parliament supported the proposal to dismiss Rezekne Court judge Arvis Garais from his post. 71 deputies voted in favour, no one abstained and no one voted against.

UK to have three requirements to EU citizens willing to remain in UK

For citizens of the European Union willing to continue living in the UK after the country leaves the bloc, they will have to submit applications and answer three key questions over the internet, according to the country's interior minister.

Weather in Latvia to be rainy and cool during Ligo; next week’s weather to be dry and hot

Weather at the end of the week in Latvia will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that, there will be instances of rain on Ligo. Weather is expected to improve next week, however, according to Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s blood plasma corruption scandal extends to Latvia

The former head of Lithuania‘s National Blood Centre, suspected of corruption and involvement in unlicenced activity, received more bad news this week from Latvia, where investigators of the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service had questioned the Latvian Health minister, Anda Čakša.

Administrative burden to be reduced for foreign students and researchers

The administrative burden will be reduced for foreign students and researchers, as well as all education and research institutions hosting them. This is provided by the amendments to the Immigration Law approved by the Saeima in the third reading on Thursday, 21 June.

Latvian Economy Minister endures no-confidence vote

Saeima declined opposition deputies’ request for dismissal of Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Swedbank economist becomes new member of Bank of Latvia Council

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s Saeima approved Mārtiņš Kazāks in his new post as member of Bank of Latvia Council, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Pope Francis’ visit to Latvia will be a national holiday

Latvia’s parliament has approved in the final reading a law that makes 24 September – the day Pope Francis plans to visit Latvia – a national holiday.

ICT specialist numbers in Latvia are below Europe’s average level

In Latvia, information and communication technology specialists form only 2.2% of all employed people in the country, which is considerably below the average level in the European Union – 3.7%. Romania and Greece are the only two EU member states in which the number of ICT specialists is below Latvia’s, according to European Commission’s DESI index.

Hungary adopts prison sentence for helping migrants

Hungarian National Assembly has passed a set of laws criminalising with prison terms some help provided to illegal immigrants by non-governmental organisations.

Harmony plans turning to Constitutional Court to prevent transition to Latvian language in schools

«Why should this reform stay unrealized? It is because schools are not prepared for cardinal changes coming from dozens of other reforms that have already shocked the country’s entire general education system,» says chairman of National Minority School Parents Forum and member of Harmony’s work group in Konstantīns Čekušins.

Deputies detained in KPV LV criminal case not declared suspects yet

Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš and businessman Viesturs Tamužs detained in the criminal process regarding possibly illegal funding of KPV LV party have not yet been declared suspects. Both are currently in police custody. It is likely Kaimiņš will be released later today, 21 June.

Production of mines and grenades planned in Estonia

As the Estonian parliament has adopted new rules on military arms and ammunition production in the country, local defence firm Eesti Arsenal has voiced its plan to build a factory in Estonia to make military explosives.

Total tax debts in Latvia reached EUR 1.224 billion in June

At the beginning of June, total tax debts in Latvia, including topical, halted debts and extended repayment terms were equal to EUR 1.233 billion, which is 0.6% less compared to May, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Switch off internet nationwide during exams – Algerian approach

In an attempt to prevent cheating during secondary school exams, the north African nation Algeria, has turned off internet in its whole territory.

Control Service proposes kicking out shell companies as intensely as offshore companies

Shell companies in Latvia should be combated with the same intensity once shown to offshore companies, says chief of Anti-Money Laundering Service Ilze Znotiņa.

Newest comments