Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses: Grants, Loans and Donations

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The COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world has had and will continue to have devastating effects on many businesses, both big and small. If your business has been hit hard as a result of the pandemic, there are relief plans that can help you keep the lights on. Keep in mind that as the situation changes, there may be additional grants, loans and donations that you may be able to receive.

Challenges Your Business May Face as a Result of Coronavirus

Coronavirus has changed the way consumers go about their daily lives. From social distancing to quarantine, many people are no longer buying the goods and services they used to buy. As a result, your business may be dealing with:

  • Difficulty accessing capital to make payroll and pay invoices

  • Limited workforce capacity without the adequate protective gear they need

  • Shifting market demands, especially for those businesses that serve large groups of people at a time

During this difficult time, it’s imperative to review your contingency plan as well as speak candidly with your stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners and investors. Everyone, regardless of where they live, is feeling the effects of the pandemic and may be able to sympathize with your difficulties.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration has an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to which all small-business owners in the U.S. and its territories can apply. This low-interest loan is offered by the SBA and state governments to businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. This program enables small businesses to get up to $2 million of working capital that can be applied to a number of expenses with which they have to deal. To apply to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit the SBA website’s Disaster page.

U.S. Small Business Administration Resources

In addition to the low-interest loan program, the SBA also offers a number of other resources that may be useful to your business during this challenging time. You can:

  • Apply for loans that are guaranteed by the SBA to increase your access to capital

  • Seek guidance on how to access federal resources that may apply to your business

  • Find out how to increase sales by exporting products and using export loans

Local Assistance

Your state or municipality may also offer disaster relief that can help your small business. These programs are still being announced, and changes may be made to them as time goes by. Be sure to check with your local government office for the latest details.

Local assistance programs include but are not limited to:

  • California: You may be eligible to apply for the San Francisco COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund or the City of Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program. In many areas of the state, there is a moratorium on evictions for businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus.

  • New York: Look into the New York City Employee Retention Grant Program and the New York City Small Business Continuity Fund. To apply, you will need to have documented proof of your loss of revenue.

  • Illinois: The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund is offering low-interest loans to impacted businesses that have had revenue losses of over 25%.

  • Iowa: The Iowa Small Business Relief Program is providing grants and tax deferrals for small businesses.

  • Michigan: The Michigan Small Business Relief Program is offering loans as well as grants to help businesses with working capital.

  • New Mexico: With the COVID-19 Business Loan Guarantee Program, small businesses can get emergency loans and lines of credit.

  • Oregon: Look into the Beaverton Emergency Business Assistance Program and the Hillsboro Small Business Emergency Relief Program. Be sure to review the specific guidelines for who is eligible.

In addition to looking at local assistance programs, connect with your landlord to discuss whether you can delay making monthly rent payments in light of the situation. You may also be able to work out payment plans with vendors and partners so you can continue to pay your invoices.

Banks and Credit Unions

There are a number of financial institutions that are changing their requirements for financial assistance for both individuals and businesses. These details are changing frequently, so be sure to check with your bank for its COVID-19 policies. They may be able to provide financial guidance, waive monthly fees and provide low-interest loans.

Some of the banks offering coronavirus relief to their customers include:

  • Bank of America

  • Chase

  • Capital One

  • Citi

  • TD Bank

  • Wells Fargo

Corporate Assistance Programs

A number of large businesses have put together relief programs to help small businesses during the pandemic. Keep in mind that there are specific eligibility requirements for each program based on location, industry, revenue and many other factors. Some of the corporate assistance programs include:

  • Amazon: The Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund is providing grants to businesses in Seattle.

  • Facebook: The social network has pledged $100 million in grant relief to small businesses.

  • James Beard Foundation: This organization is helping those in the food and beverage industry with small grants.

  • JPMorgan: This institution is offering $8 million to help small businesses in addition to $50 million to help its customers.

  • Yelp: This review platform is helping restaurant owners and nightlife businesses by waiving advertising fees through a $25 million relief fund.

Business Insurance

Be sure to contact your insurance provider to learn more about what your business disruption policy covers. While the details of your policy will depend on your insurance provider, keep in mind that many insurance companies are not covering losses experienced by businesses as a result of COVID-19.

However, local lawmakers are working on bills that would require insurance companies to cover some coronavirus-related losses. Keep in mind that this could take time and may not be approved for a number of months.

Social Media Fundraising and Crowdsourcing

Many loyal customers understand the difficulties that small-business owners are going through as a result of coronavirus. Consider crowdfunding to raise working capital for your business. You can use these funds to cover expenses such as rent payments, sick time for employees or other operational expenses. In fact, several crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe are offering grants to small-business owners during this time.

Be sure to connect with your followers on your social media channels to talk about your situation. Often, customers want to help but don’t know how, and by providing them with a couple of suggestions for how they can enjoy your products and services during the pandemic, you may be able to raise some much-needed revenue. In addition to promoting your crowdfunding initiative, ask customers to purchase gift cards for your business. They can redeem them at a later date when the pandemic has cleared and help keep your business afloat at the same time.

If your business is able to remain open during this time, you can revise your services to follow social distancing measures. For example, instead of having people in your retail store, you can take orders over the phone and place the products outside when your customers arrive. If possible, you can deliver products to your customers’ doorsteps so they can remain in their homes. Be sure to communicate any changes you are making to your business on social media and on your website so your customers are aware of how they can purchase from you during the crisis.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.