Pandemic Grants For Small Businesses – Policymakers need to adapt policies and institutions to allow small businesses to participate more in the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can strengthen the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic due to their innovative and opportunistic nature, but they need more support.
Pandemic Grants For Small Businesses
Participants at the 7th Empretec Global Summit held online on April 20 heard that policymakers need to align policies and institutions to support SMEs.
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Such support should be in line with the priorities of social and economic recovery after COVID-19, acting Secretary General Isabelle Durant said.
“Short-term support measures such as easing the tax burden on SMEs, expanding debt financing and creating jobs are essential,” Durant said.
“However, it is important to invest in long-term structural policies such as digital and financial inclusion and the development of business skills,” he added.
SMEs are the backbone of the global economy, accounting for two-thirds of global employment and 80-90 percent of employment in developing countries.
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At the same time, they affect the differences in shocks related to infectious diseases. They represent the non-core service sectors most affected by the closure measures. Many SMEs have suffered huge losses and some have closed down.
The small size of MSMEs allows them to be flexible and adapt to a new environment like the one created by COVID-19.
Not only can they help overcome previous constraints related to lack of productive capacity and economic diversity in many low-income countries, but they can also contribute to a recovery that is strong and sustainable.
The conference participants shared good practices in developing the role of entrepreneurs and SMEs, especially in Empretec’s program, which is based on a unique approach to developing the skills of entrepreneurs.
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Company director Tatiana Krylova said Empretec’s approach aims to identify and bring out the unique business potential of each program participant through behavioral changes.
This includes assessing individual differences in a person’s desire to achieve entrepreneurial skills and strengthening skills through interactive coaching methods. He said Empretec is a “4U” program – “unifying, unique, universal and unifying.”
Ms. Krylova said: “During the pandemic, Empretec continued to prove itself as one of the most effective ways to facilitate and strengthen business.”
He urged more entrepreneurs and SMEs to join the program in their respective countries to facilitate their participation in the post-COVID-19 recovery of the MSME sector.
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Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said her country supports SMEs by financing their financing needs.
“Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in creating SME opportunities is essential to increase productivity, create jobs and boost our economy,” Katagum said.
He said Nigeria has recently revised its national policy on SMEs to strengthen its resilience against the pandemic, adding that more policy frameworks are in the pipeline to support digital economy startups.
Other top panelists described good practices and lessons learned from Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay and noted Empretec’s contribution in their own countries.
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“Empretec is undoubtedly a transformative experience, important in the lives of many,” said Bruno Quick, Technical Director of SEBRAE, Brazil’s agency for small and medium-sized enterprises.
According to him, in a pandemic, the program continues to prove that entrepreneurial behavior can promote business and help small businesses find opportunities in a threatened environment.
The event included an interactive session with entrepreneurs from the Empretec network who shared their success stories during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Covid-19 has caused us a lot of losses because we have not been able to access our farm due to movement restrictions,” said Bosun Solarin, who heads Nigerian agricultural company Dasun Integrated Farms Ltd.
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He explained how he adapted to the new normal after the pandemic by utilizing digital technology and creating demand for his products.
Agda Oliver in Brazil said that during the country’s lockdown, women in business suffered more than men. He emphasized the importance of the business skills developed by the Empretec program in strengthening its sustainable development.
Also at the conference, Empretec executives and graduates from Angola, Benin, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Romania and Russia explained how the Empretec approach helped them emerge stronger from the pandemic.
They explore the factors that helped some SMEs survive and others thrive in the pandemic and how to promote their green, inclusive and sustainable recovery.
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The summit was attended by around 600 participants from 64 countries and watched by nearly 3,000 viewers from 94 countries on Facebook and UN WebTV. April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
According to the report, the state-run small business loan program has made the government small business loan program launched at the same time unexpected.
Which would you choose: free money you can save or money you have to pay back with interest?
That’s an easy decision some small businesses made when California launched two financial aid programs in late 2020, according to a recent report by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent watchdog agency.
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In response to businesses struggling with the pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom launched a small business loan program called the California Rebuilding Fund at the end of November 2020.
About a week later, Newsom said the state would also distribute grants to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
“Mortgage money can’t compete with free money,” said Scott Wu, director of IBank California, the state’s business finance and economic development agency, which provided the initial funding for the fund.
In addition to state grants, Paycheck Protection Program loans are available from the federal government. Because of this, IBank and the business group working with it have refrained from selling the loan program, Wu said.
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He said demand for the loan was lower than expected. The architects of the loan financing initially expected a size of $250 million and $500 million. So far, only $114 million has been raised, said Beth Bafford, vice president of Calvert Impact Capital, which arranged the funding.
But Wu said two kinds of relief are needed. Funding ranges from $5,000 to $25,000, with loans capped at $100,000.
According to the report, the reconstruction fund distributed about $71 million in loans to about 1,200 California businesses, most of which went to businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
Businesses across the state did not take advantage of the same program. According to the report, no one received a loan in 19 districts. In several areas, only one or two companies have received one. All companies that filled out an application and met the conditions received a loan, Bafford said.
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Two hundred and two loans, totaling $15 million, went to San Francisco-area businesses, according to reports. Businesses in that district have received 17% of the total distributed so far, even though they are home to 2% of Californians.
That’s because San Francisco built on top of the state program and invested $4 million of its own money, $2 million of which was paid in interest. This allowed the city to offer interest-free loans to businesses, said Kate Sofi, director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Without interest-free loans, fewer companies would spend money, Sofi said. And he said the city plans to invest another $1 million in the program.
Many other municipalities and counties have decided to create their own programs for small businesses, Bafford said.
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Fresno, for example, has launched its own program, said Tate Hill, executive director of Access Plus Capital, a microloan fund serving Central California. Another reason, Hill said, is that some parts of California don’t have as many financial institutions dedicated to helping low-income communities with loans, but the Bay Area has many.
Businesses in the 13 counties that make up the Central Valley received 53 loans totaling $3 million, compared to 202 in San Francisco County, according to the report.
“We have some of the poorest communities in the entire state,” said Rich Mostert, director of the Valley Community Small Business Development Center, which serves Fresno, Tulare, Madera and Kings.
San Francisco’s success hasn’t hindered the ability of businesses in other areas to get loans, Bafford said. He said the city’s program has attracted more private investment in funding, and is different from what residents might expect given the number of businesses in San Francisco.
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Loans from the fund will be available through November 2022, Bafford said. He is discussing with the state “what next”.
Californians who don’t pay taxes — because they don’t earn enough to pay off their debt — won’t get the new state’s mortgage payments. This includes the elderly and some people with disabilities and some low-income adults.
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