Foundation for Puerto Rico gets $254K grant from Wells Fargo
Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) announced the launch of [re] ACTIVA, a new mentoring and training program aimed at small businesses whose operations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program emerged after the nonprofit received of a $254,487 grant from Wells Fargo Open Business Fund. The entity is the only local organization on the island to receive this grant.
“[re] ACTIVA seeks to promote the economic recovery of small businesses affected by COVID-19, providing small business owners with technical assistance on topics such as access to capital, finance, marketing, business planning and electronic commerce, among others,” said Anneliz Oliver, economic development programs manager at FPR.
“With expert-led technical training and additional recovery resources, FPR aims to help these businesses stay open, retain employees, and optimize their operations and offerings,” she said.
Through the program, participating businesses will receive technical assistance for business preparation, recovery, adaptation, and growth, through training on skills and activities that are in high demand, including digital presence and e-commerce, which aim to help small businesses adapt their operational models to present and future challenges.
“There has been a constant demand for education on digital presence and e-commerce among the small businesses and communities that we currently support. Investing in these capabilities will help companies diversify and innovate in a global market that requires it to remain competitive and grow, particularly in the post-pandemic world,” said Alma Frontera, vice president of operations and programs at FPR.
Technical assistance will be delivered through three main channels: individualized coaching, group training sessions, both remotely and in person, and on-demand workshops available through distance learning modules.
With this initiative, FPR intends to reach up to 200 small businesses across the island. For this, the organization has opened an application period available for any small business located in Puerto Rico that meets the following requirements:
- Be an existing business currently operating;
- Priority will be given to small businesses, meaning those with less than $1,000,000 in annual sales;
- The business must demonstrate a loss of income or customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic either by sales reports or other supporting documentation; and,
- Eligible businesses must have 10 employees or less (either full-time or part-time).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that approximately 40% to 60% of small businesses do not reopen after a disaster, and another 25% closes a year after the onslaught.
Considering these statistics, FPR created the Small Business Support Program in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, to help existing business owners stay open, retain jobs, and optimize their businesses through individualized technical assistance and immediate financial relief, a model that proved to be effective and which they have replicated on other occasions.
“In Puerto Rico, small businesses are the backbone of the local economy and employ more than 80% of all private sector workers. It is important to act quickly to bring aid to the business sector after a disaster, as we did after Hurricane María and the earthquakes in the southern area. Once again, our small businesses affected by the pandemic need our support, and [re] ACTIVA was created to provide it,” Frontera said.
Small businesses interested in participating in the free technical training program must fill out an application through the nonprofit’s website, before the Nov. 26 deadline. A panel will evaluate all applications and the participating businesses will be selected in December 2021.
Starting in January 2022, the selected participants must go through an enrollment period for the workshops that interest them and the areas in which they would like to receive one-on-one mentoring. The program will run through June 2023, said Oliver.
“We want to be able to offer 400 or more hours in workshops and the same in one-on-one assistance,” she said.