Small businesses are rightly perceived as the backbone of a nation’s economy, and even the global economy, because they create job opportunities and drive economic growth. Sadly, in countries around the world, that backbone is now bending under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, many different governments have rolled out a series of measures aimed to support these struggling businesses. Below is a comprehensive, although by no means exhaustive, list of many of these national and local efforts.
The Paycheck Protection Program helps small businesses continue to pay their workers by providing a small business loan up to $10 million for payroll and other expenses such as mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs.
The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program is a pilot program offered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) that provides loans to small business owners providing they meet certain eligibility requirements. The program authorizes SBA Express lenders to expedite SBA-guaranteed financing for emergency or disaster-related purposes for up to $25,000. The purpose is to alleviate some of the difficulties small businesses face while they wait for long-term financing.
The debt relief program is part of a $375 billion package aimed at providing relief for American workers and small businesses. Under this program, the SBA will pay the principal, interest, and fees of certain new loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
State and local assistance
In addition to federal aid, several individual states and cities are also providing small business assistance to those that have been affected by Covid-19:
The State of Connecticut is offering support in the form of bridge loans up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses.
The State of Florida is providing loans and short-term compensation to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The State of Kansas has established HOST, a small business emergency resource fund, which will distribute resources to workers displaced, temporarily or permanently, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. A $1M fund for grants to help new small businesses has also been established.
The State of Louisiana announced a new Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guarantee Program that will offer loans for up to $100,000 to businesses with less than 100 employees that were impacted by the Covid0-19 pandemic.
The State of Maryland released two relief initiatives for small businesses: the Emergency Relief Grand Fund offering grants up to $10,000, and the Emergency Relief Loan Fund, offering businesses with less than 50 employees loans for up to $50,000.
The State of Massachusetts has a $10 Million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund.
The State of Michigan has several small business relief programs and resources offered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The State of Minnesota is offering interest-free emergency loans to Minnesota-based businesses in need of assistance.
The State of New Jersey is offering a variety of financial support programs for New Jersey small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The State of Washington has created the Small Business Stabilization Fund to assist small businesses impacted by Covid-19 with grants doled out via lottery selection.
The City of Birmingham is providing zero-interest loans for up to $25,000 to businesses with fewer than 50 employees via the Birmingham Strong Emergency Loan Fund.
The City of Chicago has established the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund to provide emergency cash flow to small businesses and nonprofits.
The City of Denver has created an emergency relief program to help small businesses connect with the most relevant business support.
The City of Los Angeles has established the Small Business Emergency Microloan Program to provide financing to small businesses affected by Covid-19 and that meet the eligibility requirements.
The City of New York is offering support in the form of zero-interest loans for up to $75,000 to businesses with less than 100 employees and payroll cost assistance for businesses with less than 5 employees.
The City of San Francisco has established a $10 million relief fund for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
The City of Sacramento has established a $1 million economic-relief package for local small businesses.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy supports employers and their employees by helping to cover employee wages. The subsidy will cover 75% of an employee’s wages for employers (of all sizes and across all sectors) that have suffered a drop in gross revenues (must meet the minimum percentage). Eligible employees will also receive support for employer contributions to Employment Insurance and certain pension plans.
The Canada Emergency Business Account provides credit for small businesses so they can continue to pay immediate operating costs such as payroll, utilities, insurance etc. It is 100% funded by the Canadian government and is available at various financial institutions and credit unions. Eligibility depends on certain criteria.
The Business Development Bank of Canada Co-lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises provides term loans to SMBs for their operational and liquidity needs. It is available to businesses that were healthy prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Business Credit Availability Program is available to small and medium size enterprises depending upon certain criteria. The program provides credit and other financial resources and support to help SMBs survive during the Covid-19 crisis.
The government of Kenya has introduced a series of stimulus measures, including reducing value-added tax and corporation tax and there are many organizations that have stepped in to help including the IMF.
Nigeria has announced credit relief of $136.6 million for businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak that will include help for small enterprises
South Africa has started a privately managed Solidarity Fund for managing donations to people and organizations impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and a portion of the donations will be made available to small businesses.
China has rolled out several relief programs such as special tax exemptions as well as a series of financial support measures issued by the Bank of China and other government agencies. In addition, many of the local governments are offering support for small businesses as well.
India has introduced a series of measures to keep its small businesses afloat such as the Long Term Repo Operations for helping banks increase lending at lower interest rates and extending the deadline for income tax returns.
In Israel an NIS 8 billion shekel fund was established to help small businesses and the self-employed. The fund is in the form of grants that will be given to small businesses, nonprofits, and the self-employed whose sales were significantly impacted by Covid-19.
A cash flow assistance program provides up to $100,000 tax-free assistance boosts to eligible SMBs impacted by Covid-19.
The JobKeeper Payment program offers support to employers to keep their employees on the payroll.
A wage subsidy can be used to pay trainees or apprentices for up to 9 months starting January 1, 2020.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows small businesses to get financial assistance for up to 80% of their employees’ wages so they can keep them on the payroll.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides financial support to small businesses that have suffered a loss of revenue and a disruption to their cash flow as a result of the pandemic.
Sick pay relief is being offered to small businesses via the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which allows eligible businesses to reclaim employee coronavirus-related statutory sick pay.
Belgium has put forth several government measures to assist small businesses that suffered a significant loss due to the pandemic such as the tax-free premium and compensation for businesses forced to close.
The Solidarity Fund is offering financial aid in the amount of 1500 euros to small businesses that meet a minimum loss requirement.
Germany has created an emergency assistance measure that gives businesses with up to 5 employees the right to apply for a one-time financial payment of up to 9,000 euros and businesses with up to 10 employees up to 15,000 euros.
Support for the self-employed in the form of a 600-euro monthly allowance for three months.
A redundancy fund provides employers with less than five employees whose business was reduced or suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, up to 50% of their previous wages for up to 9 weeks.
A tax credit covers 60% of the cost of rent in the month of March for shops and stores.
Netherland is offering bridging loans to small businesses that have suffered a loss of income or production due to Covid-19.
A three-month tax payment deferral on income taxes, corporation taxes, VAT, and payroll taxes is being offered to SMBs and the self-employed.
For SMBs and the self-employed that had to close their business due to Covid-19, the government is offering up to 3500 euros per month in compensation for the next three months.
Spain has announced that SMBs will be allowed to defer payment of their tax debts, or pay them in instalments, for an interest-free period of six months.
Recoverable paid leave for workers that do not provide essential services so they can continue to be paid their base salary between March 30 and April 9.
Global Small Business Assistance Programs
In addition to assistance programs offered by different nations, there are also some global organizations that have stepped up to provide assistance to small businesses. Here are a few of them:
JPMorgan Chase announced a $50 million assistance package in humanitarian aid and grants for small businesses and nonprofits around the world.
The International Monetary Fund is providing small businesses throughout numerous countries in Africa with financial assistance in order to ease the impact of Covid-19.
The European Union is assisting SMBs by directing EU cash reserves and investment funds to help those that have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Small businesses must beware of coronavirus malware too
As if the damage caused to the economy and small businesses by the biological Covid-19 was not enough, coronavirus-themed cyberattacks have also been inflicting damage. According to Microsoft, every country in the world has been attacked by some form of corona cyber malware. Small businesses, which have already suffered so much due to the pandemic, should therefore be especially careful that they don’t add insult to injury by becoming a victim of corona malware too. If ever there was a time for small businesses to ramp up their cybersecurity measures, it’s now.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Nearly six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, nations, economies, people and businesses are still reeling under its impact and everyone has started to understand that our response must be measured and monitored; a marathon, not a sprint. Still, as governments, cities, municipalities and organizations around the world introduce support measures to help economies and businesses survive and recover, it’s helpful and hopeful to know that small businesses don’t have to run the marathon alone.