COVID-19 financial relief for small business

COVID-19 Financial Relief for Small Businesses

Lela Barker

As the COVID-19 pandemic marches on, small businesses are hungry for cash and financial relief. While some of us have transformed our workshops into masks and hand sanitizer micro-factories, many of us are sidelined completely- and all of us are hurting. I’ve compiled a list of federal and state small business loans, and I’ve included some amazing grant opportunities that are specifically focused on small businesses and artists.

Before we roll up your sleeves and dive in, I don’t want you to forget that we have our full COVID-19 Resource Center on our site.


Grants are always a great option for small business financial relief because they don’t have to be paid back. Below are a shortlist that is active now as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA. Small businesses with less than 500 employees can apply for a loan of up to $2million at a low-interest rate. APPLY HERE

Express Bridge Loans from the SBA enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. LEARN MORE

The Paycheck Protection Program enables small businesses with less than 500 employees to access up to $10million to keep their teams employed. If the funds are reused to pay staff, then all or a portion of the loan may be forgiven. Then did you know that you can use remote employee desktop monitoring software to track employees and make sure that they are doing what they should be doing? It’s a very useful service and so comes highly recommended.

Sole proprietors and independent contractors are eligible, too. LEARN MORE

States and cities are stepping up to bat as well. Finder is meticulously maintaining a clearinghouse of information related to local and regional resources. It’s the most comprehensive, most organized starting place I’ve found for non-federal government help.  SEARCH FOR LOANS

The New York Times has put together an incredible guide to other forms of federal support for individuals: stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, federal student loans, paid sick leave, mortgages, and rent. It’s the single best financial resource I’ve come across, and they’re continually updating it. READ MORE

Apply for a grant of up to $10,000 from LISC’s Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund. Priority is being given to entrepreneurs of color and women-owned businesses. LEARN MORE

Facebook has earmarked $100million to provide up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in 30+ countries. You must have between 2-50 employees, have been in business for over a year, and be located in an area where Facebook operates. They want to encourage business owners to learn how to make money online, as this is how business will survive during difficult times. SIGN UP FOR MORE INFORMATION

COVID-19 Financial Relief for Small Businesses by way of grants

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, has launched The Red Backpack Fund to offer $5,000 grants to 1,000 female-owned small businesses. APPLY HERE

Hello Alice is offering $10,000 emergency grants for small businesses impacted by the virus and shutdown. READ MORE

Google has committed $800million to help address the challenges brought on by COVID-19. $200million has been set aside to provide capital to small businesses, and another $340million has been allocated to Google Ads credits for active users. LEARN MORE

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is launching A Common Thread, which includes access to emergency funds. The details are still being hammered out, but the fund is designed to support existing brands who have been impacted by the pandemic, and applicants don’t have to be CFDA members to apply. GET THE DETAILS

The Artists Fellowship has curated a tidy list of emergency aid resources for artists. Most of these are very small, but every little bit helps! VISIT THEIR SITE

WBUR Boston pulled together a long list of smaller grant opportunities especially for artists, activists, musicians and the like. LEARN MORE

WomensNet awards a $4,000 Amber Grant to a women-owned business each month. At the end of the year, all monthly winners qualify for a $25,000 grant. To apply, provide an explanation of your business and what you’d do with the grant funding. Applications are being accepted until April 30, 2020. APPLY NOW

COVID-19 Financial Relief for Small Businesses by way of SBA loans


It’s been encouraging to see the partners we often rely on a leap into action to offer relief to the small business community. I’ve been tracking the response to COVID-19 on behalf of my clients, and I hope you’ll take advantage of each of these opportunities.

PAYPAL temporarily suspended repayments on PayPal Working Capital Loans, expanded Seller Protection to digital goods and services, and made instant transfers free of charge. READ THEIR STATEMENT

SHOPIFY is offering 90-day free trials, and they’ve implemented gift card functionality on all of their plans at no additional charge. READ THEIR STATEMENT

SQUARE is waiving March and April fees for their software products and relaxing repayments for merchants who have outstanding loans with their Square Capital program. They also launched a curbside pickup feature and they’re waiving fees for the first three months. READ THEIR STATEMENT

FAIRE is extending payment terms for retailers by an additional 30 days, offering a return extension, and they’re offering free immediate payouts to brands through April 25, 2020. READ THEIR STATEMENT

ETSY has eliminated third-party ad fees for sellers through May 1. CEO Josh Silverman also announced that any seller who needs extra time paying their bills can request a one-month grace period beginning March 20.  READ THEIR STATEMENT

MAILCHIMP has set aside $10million worth of service for existing customers who need financial support. Those who qualify can enjoy 3 months of free email marketing service. READ THEIR STATEMENT


If you know of a loan or grant opportunity that I missed, please leave a comment to let me know so I can continue growing this list. If you know of a reduction in fees or other means of support from industry partners, then I’d love to know about that, too!

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About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

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