As an industry rooted in startups, the tech sector knows that small businesses are a fundamental part of the U.S. economy and American innovation. That’s why our members are finding ways all around the United States – and the world – to support small businesses and their communities. The outbreak of COVID-19 has a particularly outsized effect on entrepreneurs operating on slim margins that are only getting slimmer as they seek to continue operating while supporting their employees’ health and wellbeing. In addition to supporting their local communities and businesses through both grants and in-kind donations, ITI members are especially striving to assist small businesses through a range of financial assistance efforts, free or discounted enterprise services, and tools to help entrepreneurs navigate challenges of operating under COVID-19.
The tech industry understands that recovery will only be possible by working together. Small businesses are valued partners and customers for our companies, and we have always understood the importance of that collaboration to deliver great products and solutions. This crisis is no different. To support that collaborative ecosystem, our companies have dedicated over $1 billion in direct grants and more in additional funding that supports small businesses and their communities. These grants will provide small businesses with much-needed liquidity and greater flexibility. Our companies are also rallying for small business relief through fundraising efforts and matching employee donations so that aid goes directly to businesses in their local communities all across the United States.
In addition to direct financial support and unconventional loan programs, ITI members are supportive of a more robust and efficient Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so every startup and small business that needs funding can get it. Furthermore, some of our members have developed tools to provide small businesses with software and online tutorials to more easily apply for and obtain funding, as well as keep track of changes in federal and local programs that can offer additional assistance.
Beyond stimulating liquidity and maintaining operations, business continuity in the time of COVID-19 is challenging for all companies, but particularly so for small businesses. Our members are working hard to ensure that their enterprise services are not only reliable, but also accessible to small business customers at low or no cost throughout this period of hardship. These services “keep the lights on” for everything from customer relations management and accounting software to data analytics programs and cloud services. As the world shifts to relying on remote work arrangements, our members are ensuring reliability of teleconferencing, remote access services, and cybersecurity updates. With the transition to telework arrangements, many companies are also increasing the use of online training and employee time-tracking tools. Many of our members are offering these services to small businesses for free or foregoing overage payments to allow small business employees to continue working safely and securely.
Brick and mortar small businesses are relying on tech companies to transition selling their products and services online. From supplying ad credits on social media platforms to providing specialized assistance and training for small businesses, new technology offerings are helping these businesses to continue reaching customers now and will likely be helpful in expanding online presence and customer bases for these businesses after COVID-19 recovery. In fact, research shows that U.S. small businesses that use social media platforms to advertise or facilitate the flow of products and services are more likely to export than those that do not use social media platforms.
The ability of small businesses to thrive is not only a good indicator of opportunity, but also a great sign of economic growth, competition, and job creation. Our members are invested in the health of their local communities, the business environment, and the ideas that small businesses bring to the table. We know that supporting startups and small businesses is also what makes the United States a global leader in technology. By working together and looking out for small businesses, the tech sector is doing what it can to make sure that lights stay on today so that doors both large and small can reopen tomorrow.