Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) announced it has disbursed $80,000 to 22 entrepreneurs affected by the earthquakes in the southern area to boost their businesses.
As part of the initiatives established by FPR to support entrepreneurs in the southern part of the island, the organization reactivated the Small Business Support Program (SBSP) through the Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Fund emergency fund, to impact businesses in the municipalities of Ponce and Guánica, through financial aid and specialized technical assistance.
The initiative, which was launched two weeks after the January 2020 earthquake, fundraised through donations through the FPR website and donations from several private companies, the nonprofit said.
Local technology firm Evertec opened the reactivation of the fund with a $50,000 contribution, followed by contributions from other companies and hundreds of people who donated through ATH Móvil so their donations would be available instantly, FPR said.
“In Puerto Rico, small businesses are the backbone of the local economy, employing more than 80% of all private sector workers. It’s important to act quickly to deliver aid to the business sector after a natural disaster, as we did after María,” said FPR President Annie Mayol.
“The southern region has had great challenges after the earthquakes, now exacerbated by the pandemic. This led us to reactivate this successful program, this time aimed at entrepreneurs in the southern area,” she said.
Citing Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics that stated that between 40% and 60% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster and another 25% fails in a year, FPR created the SBSP after Hurricane María in 2017 to help existing business owners stay open, retain jobs, and optimize their operations through individualized technical assistance and immediate financial relief.
The affected businesses come from several industries in the southern area, including restaurants, retail stores and supermarkets, among others, specifically from the urban area of Ponce and Guánica.
They have received financial grants of between $1,000 and $7,500 so that they can cover their needs for access to short-term capital or help them improve the resilience of their facilities in response to natural disasters.
The cash donations were disbursed in two installments. The last payment was made after its owners completed the technical support component, offered as part of the program by the Center for Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit organization focused on providing services to new and existing businesses in the areas of planning, research and marketing.