A number of multinationals have pledged their support to small businesses that have suffered a financial blow from the corona virus.
Tech giants Amazon and Facebook, among others, have taken major initiatives to get SMEs back on their feet with a range of resources, from financing to technology, to virtual events and more.
This comes about three months after that different governments around the world have implemented lockdowns to varying degrees and their respective economies have been affected. Small independent companies have suffered most from the financial impact.
Amazon Partners with Enterprise Nation to Launch the Amazon Small Business Accelerator Program Designed to Help 200,000 Small Businesses and Startups in the UK
An expected 531,000 companies in the US will fall this year, while the same is expected from a fifth of the small companies in the UK, according to the Future Strategy Club.
Several schemes are available to help companies through this uncertain time, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Small Business Grant Fund and Bounce Back Loans.
But these have failed and many are ineligible for support, and according to a study by Nucleus Commercial Finance, one in seven SME owners are forced to dive into their own personal savings.
To help launch Amazon and Enterprise Nation, a small business support network, the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, a key support package for over 200,000 small businesses and startups in the UK.
Companies can participate for free online diagnostic test to find the ‘learning path’ that best suits the current phase of their business – ‘Start’, ‘Growth’ or ‘Turbo’.
Virtual boot camps will be held for a week to provide training and expertise to up to 1,000 mainly offline companies to help them trade online, while other industries can participate in a five-day live online course with access to experts and peer-to-peer networks.
Bootcamp participants also have access to 12 months of support from accredited marketing, operations and finance management consultants, as well as a range of benefits, including discounts and credits from Amazon and partners.
Amazon and Enterprise Nation organize one-week virtual boot camps to provide training and expertise to up to 1,000 mainly offline companies to help them trade online
Storage and removal fees for new sales partners upon fulfillment are introduced by Amazon, while Amazon Launchpad, the company’s schedule that promotes products from the latest startups, has offered ongoing cost reduction and online training.
Amazon’s Doug Gurr said, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and by helping them we can help families, communities and the UK get back faster.
“We have a long track record of supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, with more than half of all products sold in Amazon stores coming from our sales partners.
“Now, the Amazon Small Business Accelerator with Enterprise Nation provides thousands of offline and online businesses with the skills, tools, and support they need to succeed in the digital world to reach customers through Amazon or any other service.”
Payment companies American Express and Visa have also announced arrangements to support small businesses.
The first has introduced the ‘Shop Small Summer’ offer, which at least allows customers who use their Amex card to see participating small businesses receive £ 5 statement credit when they spend £ 10 or more.
Available until September 13, it can be used up to 10 times for a total of £ 50 in credits.
Lewis Freeman, owner of Dunn’s Bakery in Crouch End, is one of the many merchants Visa works with as part of the ‘Shop Local. Support local campaign
Meanwhile, the latter has’ Shop Local. Support Local. – an initiative to help small businesses adapt, build digital opportunities and meet consumer demand for cashless payments, both online and in stores.
Visa is committed to helping eight million small businesses in Europe and 50 million worldwide, in addition to the Visa Foundation’s commitment to provide $ 210 million in Covid-19 emergency assistance to meet the long-term needs of small and micro business for the next five years.
It runs this with support and resources from a number of other companies, including eBay, Deliveroo, Elavon and Shopify.
For example, merchant processor Elavon has introduced more flexible and contactless solutions to help enforce social distance rules, while e-commerce brand Shopify helps small businesses scale to the next level.
Virtual road shows and toolkits
Social media giant Facebook, which is already successful in supporting small businesses through its marketplace program, is also helping to help them with a new scheme in collaboration with Be the Business.
Together they will launch a series of support measures designed to help 1.4 million micro and small businesses. These include virtual events, peep-to-peer groups and a new ‘Messenger Bot’ that offers tailored advice depending on the status of the company, be it ‘hibernate’, ‘survive’, ‘run’ or ‘flourish’ “.
The bot will provide advice in areas such as how to access public resources, finances and forecasting, supply chains, business models and innovation, technology adoption and how to promote employee wellbeing and leadership.
Meanwhile one Boost with Be the Business virtual roadshow takes place on July 29 and offers workshops and expert business advice.
Steve Hatch, Vice President for Northern Europe at Facebook, said, “Small businesses are currently in survival mode.
“Digitally enabled companies are resilient companies and we are committed to providing the tools and resources that will enable SMEs to boost economic growth, create jobs and strengthen communities across the UK.”
The coronavirus has drastically affected companies across the country, as has the way we work, live and interact
Another program that small businesses can take advantage of is Back to Business from Barclays Bank and the Cambridge Judge Business School. It is free to use for all UK SMEs – and not just those who bank with Barclays.
It includes a toolkit, which was officially launched on June 22, and includes practical advice, including a working capital calculator and cash flow management strategies.
It’s also designed to assess a company’s overall health and tailor a resilience plan. Entrepreneurs have already shared how useful the toolkit has been
Andy Moss, CEO of Cube International, an event company based in Worcestershire, said, “Covid-19 has had a major impact on our industry, which is primarily sporting events and music.
“The Back to Business toolkit was very enlightening – it not only refreshed my memory of the practicalities of running a business, but it also turned my attention back to the basics.
“The next 12 months will be difficult as we wait for the industry to return, but if I have the toolkit as an easy-to-follow tool, I can see new solutions for the company in the meantime.”
Earlier this month, the bank also launched a ‘Get Local’ partnership with Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub, to help SMEs safely promote their skills and services to their local community and let them know they are open for business.
Essentials for small businesses
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