Dušan Sloboda, the man on a quest to support Slovak farmers

We are sitting next to the fireplace on the outskirts of Poprad, Slovakia’s gateway to the High Tatras. It is here, in Pension Plesnivec that kindly agreed to host me, I meet Dušan, the local superstar of farming entrepreneurship. 

We are having a chat because I am really curious about his venture with a simple name Podtatranská Debnička. The second word means “a wooden box”, first “coming from High Tatras”. And that is exactly what it is, the man delivers a box full of local farmers produce to the doors of Poprad dwellers.

He tells me that it all started with a strong will to support the farmers from the region who were struggling to make the ends meet in the modern Slovak economy. Also the idea came from the dissatisfaction with the way supermarkets operate. If you go to the local Tescos and Billas, Dušan goes, you can only buy apples coming from Spain with Slovak apples rotting in the gardens of local farmers. It’s certainly a strong opinion and it’s a driving force behind Debnička. 

“My mission is to give hope to the regional farmers, to offer them a helping hand” he continues.

So here it comes, the Amazon of Poprad, the ultimate agricultural e-commerce platform. 

I am asking how hard was it to start.

“Not that hard really, this was and still is my side project”. He co-owns Penzion Plesnivec, a place I’m staying at, with his parents and “Podtatranska Debnička” is his soul job, the one he just enjoys doing. 

Here’s how the whole thing works. In a true startup vibe, there is a website with a list of the products you can buy. All perfect for a delicious seasoned feast. You have meat, vegetables, fruits, pickled stuff, sweet stuff. You order that online and it is delivered to your door by Dušan himself.

Imagine having relatives in the countryside. Podtatranská Debnička feels the same as them sending you a delicious heartfelt produce they collected. Or it can be a lovely village granny analogy. You get the point. 

What really surprised me was Dušan answer to “Would you like to expand” question. 

“Not really” was his reply. “If I do then quality might be extremely difficult to maintain. So far I have everything I really wanted from this business”.

Quite an honest and simple approach. Also a very Slovak way of thinking, in my opinion. Doing what’s right and doing in an amount that can result in quality. That’s fair, I definitely admire it. 

Maybe Dušan doesn’t have the ambitions to conquer Slovakia with his e-platform. Maybe Slovakia doesn’t need it. What it needs is more of such local initiatives doing good for their communities. This is what socially conscious entrepreneurship should stand for, isn’t it? 

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