Saturday, September 18, 2021

Facebook is launching a $ 100 million small business grant program

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In a show of good faith, the company is trying to help small businesses recover from hardships felt during the pandemic with a new $100 million grant program.  Facebook has a reason to cozy up to small businesses: They account for most of the tech giant’s advertising revenue. 

Beginning October 1, qualified diverse small businesses in the US can apply to get cash immediately for outstanding bills. With this money, small businesses can quickly pay their bills and employees. Later, when the invoices are due, Facebook will collect the payments directly from the businesses’ clients. 

“This is the core of our business, but it’s also core to the value we think we give to the world,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in an interview with Insider.

Next month, Sandberg plans to bring together leaders from American Express, UPS and other large US companies to meet with small business owners. She said the meeting will serve as a “hackathon” to identify new ways for large companies like Facebook to help small businesses navigate the pandemic.

The launch of the $100 million program coincides with a new report released last week showing small business owners are still struggling to stay afloat. In particular, the report highlights small businesses operated by women and people of color have been among those hit hardest during the pandemic. In the US, small businesses led by minorities were 50% more likely to be closed or have lower sales, according to the report.

“Small businesses are always important, but in the middle of an economic downturn, they’re even more important because more than 50% of job growth comes from small businesses,” said Sandberg, adding that a local bakery in Palo Alto where she gets her challah bread is now out of business.

“It just keeps happening,” she said. “Big companies have the ability to weather a storm but COVID has been uniquely hard on small businesses.”

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