No business sector has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis as much as small businesses or small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). And it’s no surprise; SMEs have much fewer resources, they have greater credit constraints, and not all of them were prepared for the unprecedented nature of this particular crisis.
Thankfully, many consumers have been rallying to support small businesses during this difficult time, and many larger corporations have been leading the charge in this movement. Many big companies have offered a helping hand to assist small businesses and SMEs in getting back on their feet. Here are some ways big corporations are helping small businesses during the pandemic and recession.
Corporate juggernaut Amazon has pledged to invest $18 billion to help SMEs grow their sales amidst the ongoing economic downturn and intermittent lockdowns, especially since so many brick-and-mortar stores have been forced to close up shop. In September 2020, more than 25,000 entrepreneurs and business owners attended Amazon Accelerate, the corporation’s largest U.S. event dedicated to helping sellers find success. The Jeff Bezos-owned company also launched more than 135 new services and tools to assist vendors in growing their businesses — including innovative ways to connect consumers to these brands.
They also announced that they will spend an additional $100 million to help market and promote SMEs during Prime Day and all throughout the holiday season. Amazon also reiterated its commitment to supporting and educating more than 500,000 small businesses and to incorporate 100,00 new American sellers to help them find success and build thriving brands within the e-commerce platform. The corporation also established a Neighborhood Relief Fund, which has distributed over $11 million in free rent and cash aids to more than 900 SMEs and small businesses.
Here are some ways bigger companies have pledged to support small businesses during the recession and pandemic:
- Zoho Corporation, a software development company based in India and who has expressed care for people’s holistic growth, is giving away a free suite called Remotely which has 11 business apps designed to help businesses and companies of all sizes transition to a work-from-home setup. They also launched their Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP), a free service that can assist small businesses in gaining access to supplies and selling their services and products.
- During the COVID-19 crisis, Sierra Nevada, a top craft brewery located in California, launched a program to purchase back their beer from small companies and businesses that were left with inventory and supplies they bought before the pandemic but weren’t able to sell during the quarantine and intermittent lockdowns.
- Yahoo!, through its #PayItForward campaign, is offering a free domain, website, and five e-mail addresses for entrepreneurs who art launching start-ups this year.
- Dell Technologies has offered to help small business owners preserve much-needed cash and capital by offering a zero-percent interest rate and payment deferral up to 180 days for new purchases on equipment.
- American Express led the establishment of Stand for Small, a coalition of more than 60 corporations that have pledged to come together to give small businesses valuable tools, offers, services, and expertise, to help them manage their teams remotely, reduce their operating costs, enhance their digital capabilities, and meet other needs during the COVID-19 crisis and recession.
Infrastructure and e-commerce enhancement
With many businesses having to improve their facilities to accommodate worker and consumer safety, the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF), which was established by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in partnership with the federal government, has pledged and committed to providing businesses across various industries and sectors with relief aids of up to $5,000 to offset the number of expenses small businesses have incurred due to the pandemic and recession. These costs include adjustments to office space, the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs), and the development of work-from-home and e-commerce capabilities. If the expenses were directly caused by or related to the categories:
- Purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- The use of building materials and coatings that help curb the spread of the infection, such as copper, cardboard, and ASTM F-3010 moisture barrier
- Improvement of websites and e-commerce capability
Small businesses are an invaluable part, if not the lifeblood, of the global economy. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses and SMEs account for 99% of all establishments in the United States, are responsible for more than 40 percent of job creation, 45 percent of our economy’s GDP, and 34% of all United States exports. But at the same time, they are most vulnerable during these times of upheaval. We need to do all that we can to help small businesses if we want our economy to survive this downturn.