About 10,000 U.S small businesses that have been affected by the novel coronavirus will have access to Facebook $40 million grants. The companies span 34 cities, but those in New York and Seattle will be the first to receive funds next week. This is part of the $100 million grant program announced on March 17. The majority of the grants will be distributed in cash, with some ad credits for business services. Businesses do not need to be on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp to apply.
About 96% of the U.S small businesses said they have being negatively affected by the viral outbreak. Small businesses in the U’S are as high as 30 millions, according to Forbes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses everywhere,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a post published Thursday evening. “Suddenly and, through no fault of their own, many simply can’t do business, and for others it has become much, much harder because customers are doing the right thing and staying at home.”
As part of this announcement, the social media giant has also provided more details about the grant application process, which will start next week, as well as new tools and a collaboration with small business partner Ureeka to invest in eligible minority- and women-owned businesses.
Facebook estimates that more than 140 million businesses use its apps every month to find new customers, hire employees, engage with their communities and conduct other day-to-day operations. The company also approximates that more than 200 million people visit Instagram Business Profiles every day.
Businesses utilizing its platforms include Manic Mermaid, a Tacoma-based art gallery that’s been closing sales and online orders using Facebook Live, and PandA Homestead, a Capron, VA, farm that has barely been able to keep up with the demand for deliveries of eggs, broilers, pork and blueberries placed through Facebook.
“In this challenging time, when information is changing daily, we are listening to and learning from scores of small businesses to understand what they need now and what they will need down the road,” wrote Sandberg.
To that end, the tech behemoth is also rolling out various tools to further support local businesses, including custom digital gift cards, the ability to create fundraisers and easier ways for businesses to communicate service changes to their customers.
“These are rolling out today in the U.S. and our teams are working hard on bringing these tools to more countries, as we know they can be a lifeline for businesses to quickly get the capital they need until it is safe to open their doors again,” wrote Sandberg.
Last month, Facebook also launched its Business Hub, featuring resources and recommendations to help small businesses stay connected and on track. It also offers direct access to credible information about COVID-19 to help businesses stay informed.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of their communities,” wrote Sandberg. “We are determined to help and we know the road ahead will require a lot more from all of us.”