If you’re an entrepreneur whose small business has been hit hard by COVID-19, we’ll show you how you can apply for the Amazon Small Business Relief Fund.
The global COVID-19 crisis has hit businesses hard over the past few months, especially small businesses that are being stifled by necessary quarantine lockdown measures.
While commerce is on indefinite suspended animation as we await a reprieve, it’s important for small businesses to be able to survive the effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Big companies have taken it upon themselves to ease the burden by providing relief funds and other grants to small businesses to get them through this difficult time.
One of them is Amazon, which has established the Amazon Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund with a $5.5 million initial contribution for small businesses in the Seattle and Bellevue area.
How to Apply for an Amazon Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund Grant
According to Amazon, to be eligible for a grant, your company must meet the following criteria:
- You must have fewer than 50 employees or have less than $7 million in annual revenue.
- Also, the company must be a service or retail establishment that’s open to the general public.
Since the relief fund is aimed to assist independent small businesses, companies that are owned by publicly-traded corporations are not qualified for the grant.
Businesses that don’t rely on foot traffic and are not generally open to the public likewise do not qualify for the grant either.
Most of the small businesses that qualify for the grant include establishments like:
- coffee shops
- sandwich shops
- food trucks
- beauty salons and barbers
- car washes
- catering services
Verify Business Eligibility
Interested small businesses can apply for the grant by completing an application form.
If you qualify for the grant, funds will be disbursed as soon as possible.
Since this is not a loan, but a grant from a relief fund, those receiving it don’t have to pay it back.
Cities That Qualify for the Amazon Small Business Grant
Small businesses located in South Lake Union, Regrade, and Bellevue, which are within several blocks of Amazon offices, are targeted for grants.
Businesses outside Seattle and Bellevue are not yet in consideration for the grants.
Why Is Amazon Doing This?
According to Amazon, their goal with the relief fund is to “help small businesses maintain their livelihood and continue to foster a vibrant community.”
More than half of Amazon’s 2019 revenue of $280 billion came from third-party sellers. Therefore, it is in their best interest to help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis, hoping that they can get back on their feet once things somehow return to normal.
In the meantime, during this “new normal,” their capacity to resume business operations is stunted due to employees having to stay home and limited ability to deliver goods to customers.
That’s why Amazon felt it necessary to establish their Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund.
According to Amazon, the funds are expected to cover day-to-day operating expenses for small businesses.
However, Amazon ensures that recipients’ expenditures will not be inspected.
It’s believed that these grants can help reduce the negative effect of reduced traffic resulting from measures taken to stem the tide of COVID-19.
Other Ways Amazon is Helping Small Businesses During COVID-19
Aside from the Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund, Amazon is doing many other things to help small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Amazon is a part of the new Stand for Small coalition, a growing group of companies aimed at helping small business owners in America.
Since small businesses generate around 43% of the country’s gross domestic product, helping them survive COVID-19 is crucial to the future of the economy.
Much of Amazon’s efforts are to assist the countless small businesses that operate in the ecommerce site through practical tools, educational resources, and opportunities.
Aside from setting up a relief fund, they’re also providing resources like free use of their business applications:
- Amazon Chime
- Amazon WorkDocs and Amazon WorkSpaces, as well as
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) for 12 months through AWS Free Tier.
These tools help businesses continue their operations by letting them be able to communicate and collaborate despite stay-at-home orders.
In turn, such tools make it possible for employees to avail of work-from-home opportunities.
The Amazon Small Business Academy
The Amazon Small Business Academy is their primary educational resource for small business owners who want to use Amazon to continue doing business amid this lockdown.
Since brick-and-mortar establishments remain closed during quarantine, being able to stay open remotely can help them serve customers and keep revenue coming in to survive.
Amazon has been helping both small businesses and the community at large in Seattle through the COVID-19 crisis. Not only have they established the Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund and given free rent to more than 400 small businesses in the area, but they also provided 73,000 meals to elderly and vulnerable residents in the area.
AWS has lent its powers to Brain Corp, a robotics startup that makes autonomous floor scrubbers for retail businesses, airports, hospitals, and other establishments that require frequent cleaning and sanitation.
No one knows for sure when the COVID-19 crisis will end and things will get back to the old normal. However, it’s crucial that we can preserve much of what we had in small businesses until this unusual storm passes.
Amazon recognizes that community is important, and the businesses that serve that community will need every help they can get to survive this pandemic and its impact on the economy. Once a definite cure or vaccine is available for COVID-19, we can start the healing process.
If there’s anything we can take away from this, aside from the local entrepreneurs who may avail of this assistance, is that when the chips are down, the community can persevere if we help each other out and go through hardships together.
Additional read: Amazon’s Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak