Government Help For Small Businesses

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An international panel examined how governments are playing a key role in fostering economic resilience and digitization among small businesses amid unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic.

Government Help For Small Businesses

The economic damage from COVID-19 is disproportionately hitting small businesses — and governments should continue to move to help them go digital — according to panelists at an international webinar featuring representatives from the public and private sectors.

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It is estimated that small businesses employ about 70 percent of the world’s workforce and contribute about half of the world’s GDP. In less developed countries, small businesses are usually even more important in terms of employment and GDP. But many — especially those who aren’t used to doing things digitally — are experiencing tough times as the pandemic continues.

The webinar, titled “Planning for Recovery: How Governments Around the World Can Help Small Businesses ‘Build Better?’,” was hosted by the Global Government Forum and published by sister Global Government Fintech and supported by our knowledge partner Mastercard at October 1st.

A panel of four examined the biggest challenges facing small businesses during the pandemic; how the public and private sectors have collaborated to foster economic resilience and digitization among small businesses; and how governments can best help small businesses understand and prepare for the world beyond the pandemic.

“We see small businesses as the backbone of communities around the world,” Andrea Gilman, senior vice president and director of the global SME segment at Mastercard, told webinar attendees. Mastercard announced in April that it would commit $250 million over five years to support small businesses on issues from digital payments and digital storefronts to cybersecurity, and understanding where they are on their own digital journey. “The pandemic is affecting this sector more than others,” Gilman said, adding that “we truly believe that ‘going digital’ will help all businesses, which is why we’ve launched digital accelerator programs in every market around the world.” “

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Tim Ogden, managing director of the Financial Access Initiative (FAI) at Wagner University in New York — a research center focused on studying how financial services can better meet the needs and improve the lives of low-income households: “No question. small businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic impact [of the pandemic]. Ogden said: “Most small businesses are owned by people with lower-than-average incomes, and they also create jobs for lower-income households. The biggest drop in wages [during the pandemic] was recorded by the lowest earners. “

The government perspective on the panel was provided by Pawel Winkler, who has been director of the Czech Republic’s Department for Business Environment and Internal Trade – part of the Ministry of Industry and Trade – since 2017. “The epidemic showed a transition to digitalization. for the state and the business sector. Those [businesses] that operate on the Internet don’t have as much to lose as those that operate in a traditional way – that’s clear,” Winkler said. He added that his department’s top priority is the “business family,” which he described as the backbone of the Czech economy.

Other initiatives mentioned by Winkler that the Czech government has introduced to help small businesses include: a scheme to allow small businesses to trial payment machines at points of sale, free of charge for up to 12 months; a new web portal to provide a single point of direct access for entrepreneurs to contact the authorities; and a decision to designate only two days each year – January 1 and July 1 – when new laws affecting small businesses can be introduced, to try to enable business owners to follow administrative and legal obligations.

The fourth webinar speaker was Daryl Julott, Managing Director of Digital Main Street Canada, an initiative created by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Business Improvement Areas Association (TABIA) in 2016 to help small businesses make the most of digital opportunities . For example, it provides free training from a “Digital Services Department”, usually made up of recent graduates.

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The pandemic has naturally seen many small businesses turn to the government in the first place for help with support measures such as wage subsidies and help with commercial leases, Yulot said. “As the impact of COVID-19 continues, these day-to-day concerns are ‘still very common’ and indeed ‘issues one, two, three and four’ for many small businesses. When this first happened in March, business owners had a lot of other things [to prioritize digitalisation] – they had to deal with life,” he said.

As for initiatives in which governments around the world could invest more resources to help small businesses, Ogden’s recommendations included doing more to help companies with market access and small business owners to help him acquire managerial skills. Governments, he said, should think creatively about schemes such as tax holidays, grants, capital, soft loans and also protect small businesses from “bad actors” such as fraudulent transactions and predatory lenders.

Regarding the pandemic, he said: “We have to ask what are the long-term opportunities, not just how we’re going to allow small businesses to survive in, say, the six weeks ahead.”

Gilman also made the point that gender has often not been given enough attention in discussions of how the pandemic is affecting business, saying small businesses owned by women have been disproportionately affected.

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Ogden also said programs to help small businesses take advantage of digital opportunities must be “comprehensive.” He explained: “I worry when I hear ‘All we have to do is get [small businesses] online and they’ll be fine,’ which isn’t particularly true.” “

In response to a question from the audience about why governments should invest in small businesses in particular, Ogden emphasized his broad message of their importance as employers of higher and lower incomes, among other reasons.

To conclude, the panel – moderated by World Government Fintech Editor Ian Hall – was asked for their top single recommendation for governments. Gilman emphasized the importance of “digitality”; Yulot said governments should “explore more non-traditional partnerships – get out of their comfort zones a bit”; and Ogden proposed programs to provide “low-cost soft loans” by working with private sector lenders who would not be able to offer such terms without government support.

The FAI will launch the Small Business Diaries project in collaboration with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to collect data on the “financial life” of small businesses in six countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria and Colombia.

New Resources To Help Small Businesses Tender For Nsw Government Work — Regional Development Australia

This report covers the October 1, 2020 World Government Forum / Webinar World Government Fintech “Planning for Recovery: How can governments around the world help small businesses ‘build back’ better?” You can watch the entire session below: WELLESLEY, MA – APRIL 15: Taylor True Value Equipment Rental Store in Wellesley, MA thanks their customers for their support on April 14, 2020. (Photo: David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Part of what motivates me and other founders to create new ventures is the thrill of the unknown and the unpredictability of entrepreneurship. While entrepreneurs have previously weathered global economic crises, such as the 2008 recession, the coronavirus pandemic has created a new level of economic uncertainty across all industries. Small business owners, startup founders, and other entrepreneurs have had to make devastating decisions to try to save their companies.

Until now, the public sector approach has been largely inadequate. The US government’s federal small business aid program quickly ran out of money and was never even available to most privately funded startups. And there is little hope for how long the new wave of federal relief will last. At the same time, the private sector was unable to provide support. Traditional methods of institutional capital raising, such as venture capital, are drying up and becoming increasingly unavailable.

These institutions are failing to take off, and businesses increasingly need community support to survive. There are encouraging signs: Communities have come together to support local businesses they love, such as buying gift certificates to help small businesses, ordering from local establishments like bookstores and donating to virtual tip jars for restaurant workers. Many people arrange virtual sessions for service providers who usually work in person, such as personal trainers and therapists. In addition, small businesses have raised money through crowdfunding platforms, where their loyal customers can support them online. Despite the negative market forecasts, this can be an optimistic time for entrepreneurs and a time of great innovation.

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An interesting parallel can be drawn by examining recent history. After the recession of 2008, crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter became important to fill the capital gap for entrepreneurs. During this time, traditional crowdfunding became a popular way for businesses to raise money. These platforms can provide some relief to the owners, but now many crowdfunding campaigns are based on donations that they could not capture due to too many campaigns focused on immediate relief.

Equity crowdfunding is an emerging solution that will become more popular as businesses urgently need access to capital. Through equity crowdfunding, potential investors are encouraged to

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