Small businesses are struggling to survive in the economic fallout from COVID-19, but there are government assistance programs available to help.
The recent global health pandemic has caused many businesses to halt or modify business operations at less than full capacity, which has not only stunted potential revenue, but also endangered financial security. Women-owned businesses, which have met obstacles raising funds to support their business, are at even more of a disadvantage in this new public health and economic crisis.
Women entrepreneurs have a notoriously hard time gaining access to capital, due to scarcity of information and access to government resources as well as gender bias from investors. Without adequate capital, women cannot make their creative ideas a reality, nor can they afford to maintain the businesses that provide jobs for a significant portion of the population. But there are resources women-owned businesses can turn to to help them recover from economic loss faced during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act established several new temporary U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak: SBA Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Loans & PPP (Paycheck Protection Program).
The United States congress reached a deal on a roughly $480 billion coronavirus relief funding package to continue helping small business and hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing. This new funding package comes after the initial funds set aside for the PPP and EIDL were exhausted in just two weeks — following over 1.66 million loans amounting to more than $342 billion.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
Small business owners in all fifty states, Washington D.C., and territories impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000. As stated on the SBA’s website, “This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.” Please note that “successful application” does not mean you have to be approved for the loan. Moreover, loan approval is not necessary to receive the loan advance.
This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (which includes sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons), private non-profit organizations, or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19. In certain industries, businesses may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for respective industries.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The PPP provides loan forgiveness to businesses for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. The SBA will forgive loans received through this program if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.