Grupo Guayacán and Popular have partnered once again to provide a total of $90,000 in economic relief grants for small businesses that are currently struggling to maintain operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The incentive “will provide much-needed aid to companies that are working hard and reinventing themselves to survive the challenges of this difficult time,” the entities said.
The initiative is part of Grupo Guayacán’s efforts to help Puerto Rico’s business community continue operating in the midst of the public health measures taken to control the pandemic.
“This investment reaffirms our commitment to Puerto Rico’s business community. It is a priority for Popular to collaborate with organizations like Grupo Guayacán, which we know work nonstop to foster the growth and development of local companies,” said Beatriz Polhamus, first vice president of Popular’s social commitment division.
The economic incentive will be benefit 17 small businesses responsible for some 100 jobs, all of them winners of Guayacán’s 2019 EnterPRize business competition.
Grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 will be awarded through this effort. The grant amount was determined according to each company’s financial needs and the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on its operations.
The funds will help protect 104 jobs from the benefited companies, which reported $2 million in combined sales on 2019, Guayacán said.
“We’re convinced that, once again, small will be at the forefront of Puerto Rico’s recovery. These funds will help them navigate the great difficulties they are currently facing, emerging stronger and more resilient,” said Laura Cantero, executive director of Grupo Guayacán.
“Today we’re dealing with an unimaginable and unprecedented crisis, but our business community has risen to the occasion and we are proud to partner with Popular once again to support them,” Cantero said.
Companies will use the funds to cover payroll, rent, and other operational costs, as well as to develop new and innovative ways to keep their businesses operating.
Prior to disbursement, each company was required to present a milestone plan, and a detail of the proposed use of funds. In addition to the cash funds, participants will get mentoring on finance, accounting, and access to other incentives and emergency aid from Lianabel Oliver, founder of OBALearn.
“The preventive shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have had a drastic effect on our retail business, affecting our income and the economic stability of our employees. But the crisis gives us new opportunities to refocus on our online efforts, increasing the visibility of our brand and learning about new tools to maximize our capabilities,” said Tommy de Armas, spokesman for Fishi, one of the small businesses benefited from the initiative.
“Thanks to these funds, we will be able to retain and train our workforce and push our growth and export plans,” he said.
During the lock-down period, Grupo Guayacán has continued to offer free online lectures covering different aspects of a business operation facing the COVID-19 crisis. Topics include available financial aid, remote working strategies and digital business transactions, among others.