The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging and troubling in many ways, and the reality is that it's only going to get worse. With a vaccine still months away, and the virus still spreading into new regions, the likelihood is that we'll be dealing with this for months, which will have a major impact on many sectors and businesses.
To help ease this burden, at least for some organizations, Facebook has this week announced a new $100 million grants program to assist 30,000 SMBs, in 30 nations, supporting the communities in which Facebook and its teams operate.
As explained by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
"Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and many of the people who run these businesses are heavily affected by the crisis – especially as more and more people sensibly stay home. The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees. That’s why today I’m announcing that Facebook is investing $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where our employees live and work."
Facebook has created a dedicated website for the new program here:
So, who's eligible for funding? Well, that's not 100% clear as yet.
Facebook says that it will reveal more information, and begin taking applications for the grants, in the coming weeks. Right now, interested businesses can sign-up to get more information on the program as it evolves by tapping the sign-up button on the website.
In addition to grants, Sandberg also notes that Facebook's exploring a range of other options to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 outbreak, and stay afloat amid its many challenges.
In order to provide further assistance, Facebook has:
- Launched a new Business Resource Hub, which aims to provide support for all businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak by connecting them to relevant tools and advice
- Begun work on a new virtual training program to support businesses operating in altered conditions because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
- Mapped a new strategy on how it can host dedicated, virtual training sessions with businesses all over the world
- Begun work on a new set of Facebook Blueprint materials, with a particular focus on remote work and managing remote teams
In addition to this, the Facebook Journalism Project is also partnering with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to offer $1 million in grants to local news organizations which are covering COVID-19 in the US and Canada, further helping to prop-up local communities and keep relevant news and updates flowing.
Of course, Facebook brought in $71 billion in revenue in 2019, so $100 million is not a massive amount by comparison. But it will be hugely meaningful for those that get it - again, the COVID-19 situation is likely to drag on for months, and many small businesses, in particular, will be heavily impacted.
If Facebook's grants can help keep even some of them going, that is a big win.