Colmena66, a program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, shared the results of its “Levanta tu Negocio Puerto Rico” survey, which among other things, revealed that 86% of participating businesses lack a contingency fund for unforeseen situations.
The survey began on Mar. 20 and during the first five weeks, 625 responses were collected, originating from 72 municipalities. The industries that participated the most were professional services (with 16%), retail (with 15%) and the restaurant and hotel industry (with 14%).
The survey also confirmed that 61% of participants said their business can only stay open one month with the capital they currently have available, and 52% said they would need between $1,000 and $10,000 to resume operations.
In addition, 76% said they needed help creating a risk mitigation plan for COVID-19, compared to 67% which expressed the same sentiment earlier during the seismic season.
This is the third time Colmena66 has conducted surveys aimed at guiding small and medium enterprises from all sectors to make the necessary decisions after the impact of a disaster.
The first edition of this initiative took place in 2017, in response to Hurricane María and its effects on the local economy. A second edition was launched earlier this year to help southern businesses affected by the earthquake. Now, the initiative has been reactivated in response to the pandemic.
“Colmena66 has dedicated all of its efforts in helping more than 6,800 entrepreneurs and business owners to start and grow their businesses, connecting them with the right resources at the right time,” said Denisse Rodriguez-Colón, executive director of Colmena66.
“The experience of Hurricane María has allowed us to develop a proven formula to help entrepreneurs during disasters. Usually these entrepreneurs feel alone and overwhelmed with many questions, and in our resource network they find the support and reliable tools to keep on moving forward,” she said.
Entrepreneurs responding to the survey also benefit from the services of other business support organizations as Colmena66 has made this data available so that other partner organizations can also address the needs of the business sector. The survey is still accepting responses and Colmena66 will continue helping entrepreneurs, she said.
Colmena66 announced that, with the input from the survey, it has structured a system consisting of three steps to help entrepreneurs and their communities navigate and adapt to new challenges and manage uncertainty about the future.
Step 1: React. The first step in the midst of a crisis is to mitigate the damage and provide immediate relief. To this end, Colmena66 published the Recovery Guide, a resource directory for small and mid-sized businesses organized by topic and industry that is updated daily to make it a less stressful process for the entrepreneur.
Stage 2: Refocus. Entrepreneurs need to adapt their business quickly amid this constantly changing situation. Therefore, Colmena66 continuously identifies virtual workshops, educational forums and training programs of other business support organizations and publishes them on its website and social networks, thus reducing the burden of entrepreneurs that would otherwise need to do the research on their own.
Stage 3: Rebuild. For entrepreneurs to not only survive this crisis, but to emerge stronger than before, Colmena66 will continue to connect entrepreneurs in a personalized way with tools, resources and guides that really help them make the necessary decisions during and after the crisis.
“We recognize that business development must have an essential component of resilience. That’s why we analyze the needs of entrepreneurs, curate a guide of resources and support to educate them; and establish the steps to rebuild the businesses and boost the economy, betting on the resilience of these business owners,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.