Today, once again, Puerto Rico and the rest of the world faces a great challenge with the threat of COVID-19. However, our experiences from the past give us the tenacity and resilience to endure any obstacle in the way. One more time our communities, small business owners, and entrepreneurs, particularly those whose livelihoods depend on the visitor economy, are being hit hard. And once again, Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) will be here to support them.
On Sunday night, Puerto Rico’s governor Wanda Vazquez issued an executive order to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, where 5 cases have been confirmed to date. The order, which went into effect Sunday night and lasts until March 31, mandated the closure of non-essential businesses, an island-wide curfew from 9pm – 5am, and steep fines for any infringement. “Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S., is leading & ahead of the states, in attempting to stop the spread of COVID19,” tweeted CBS news correspondent David Begnaud.
In doing so, the island will be able to safeguard our citizens’ and visitors’ health in the short term, and our economy in the long term.
Closely tracking the progress of global events related to COVID-19 for weeks, we developed and revised protocols for how to best ensure the safety of our staff and the continuity of our programs. Since Monday, we’ve been working remotely at full capacity, and have managed to keep all our programs running to make a difference in our communities, which need more support now than ever before. We successfully transitioned Emprende 360° from an in-person program to one that’s being managed 100% online.
During this period of uncertainty, it is imperative to identify immediate financial relief options available for microenterprises and small businesses, who are some of the most affected by COVID-19’s containment efforts. Here are some options that small business owners in Puerto Rico should be applying to and keeping on their radar. Help us spread the word:
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses suffering a substantial economic injury. Learn more about it here.
Local partners Causa Local and Kiva have financial opportunities available, such as loans of up to $15,000 at 0% interest. Find more about them here.
Mark your calendars – Facebook just announced a $100M cash grant program to assist small businesses. They’ll start taking applications in the coming weeks. Click here to learn more.
The global tourism industry is taking an unprecedented hit, due to the COVID-19 threat. From tour guides to street vendors, everyone who depends on visitor spending is suffering losses. Tourism in Puerto Rico is no exception.
The sooner public health officials around the world can contain this crisis and #FlattenTheCurve, the sooner we’ll be able to get our economy back on track. FPR will continue to share relevant information to help our communities through this latest challenge, and to use research and thought leadership to drive policy recommendations to ensure our state and government’s response is agile and inclusive.
As always, thank you for your support, especially during these trying times.