There is so much confusion about grants and programs available to small businesses at the moment, and things change quickly as the money runs low.  But I want to make sure that independent retailers know there are some potential sources of assistance beyond the well-publicized (and controversial) federal Small Business Administration loans.

A recent article by Renee Morad for Forbes gives a good rundown of five programs you may not have heard of: 

A similar article by Gabrielle Bienasz for Inc. adds a few more possibilities:

The Verizon program (the source of the illustration with today’s blog) includes an offer of a $5 Visa Reward card to use at a local business, and a link to buying gift cards at shops and restaurants that are selling them through Square.  According to Verizon, they have already pledged $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit that will use Verizon funding to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19.

When the coronavirus shutdown first began, Facebook announced that it was planning to give $100 million in cash grants and credits to businesses impacted by COVID-19.  The requirements are that the business must be for-profit and have between 2 and 50 employees – and be located in one of 30 countries where Facebook operates.  According to Facebook, the funds can be used to “keep your workforce going strong; help with your rent costs; connect with more customers and c over operational costs.”

You don’t need to be an economic expert to realize that the number of eligible businesses is going to be many more than the 30,000 grants that Facebook has said will be available.  The company has wisely decided to roll their program out gradually, starting on April 18 in New York and Seattle, April 20 in the San Francisco area and on April 22 in other eligible US cities.  The list of eligible cities in this country is actually rather limited,  so the Facebook offer may not benefit you unless you are in a major city, or one of the lucky towns such as Altoona, Iowa; Papillion, Nebraska; or Eagle Mountain, Utah.  If your shop is in an area on the list, you will have two weeks to apply.

Facebook undoubtedly realizes that the vast majority of businesses impacted by COVID-19 will not get a share of their generous offer of $100 million, so they are also offering a Business Resource Hub with some suggestions to help you get through this time.  American Express and Small Business Saturday are also offering tools and graphics you might find useful.

Kiva has expanded eligibility for its loans in the US due to the pandemic.  They are also increasing the maximum amount of their loans, and offering a grace period of up to six months for the start of repayments.

States and cities are doing what they can to help keep their businesses afloat, and there are some programs targeted at specific types of retail, or minority/women owned stores.  If you find a good resource, please share it with your fellow shopkeepers.  We need to help each other get through this trying time.

Happy Retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder