COVID-19 and its harsh economic impact aren’t going away anytime soon. The small business economy will be reeling for years to come. Hope is just on the horizon, but many events and business owners that made plans to go back to normal by last fall are still having to re-evaluate everything and make tough choices. Savvy business owners are redefining and adjusting their products, services and operations in order to survive in the new economy.
ECDI has been helping businesses navigate their financial future through several COVID-focused loan programs.
“Since the pandemic forced businesses to severely limit their daily operations, we’ve seen tremendous demand,” says Inna Kinney, ECDI founder & CEO.
Across the state, ECDI closed 640 loans totaling $16.8 million, between April 1 and year end. Compare that to the past few years, when the organization closed an average of $7-$8 million in loans in a calendar year. Nearly 70% of loans closed since the start of the pandemic were to Black-owned businesses, while around 50% were to women-owned.
“These numbers reflect the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on minority and female owned businesses,” says Kinney.
Entrepreneurs need capital, but they also need assistance adjusting their business model.
“Several of our clients hadn’t made their online presence a priority,” says Aminata Soko, director of the Women’s Business Center of Central Ohio (WBC). “The massive consumer behavior shift brought on by the pandemic completely blindsided our clients. They have to completely rethink how to connect with customers and how to reposition their services virtually.”
The WBC helps clients with one-on-one business counseling every day, but COVID-19 showed that there was a greater need for individualized help.
Fortunately, through the CARES Act, the federal government laid out several provisions to help small businesses. If your company has been affected by COVID, you can get help making a meaningful business pivot through the WBC’s curated set of expert advisors to help combat the coronavirus’ impact on local businesses. These consultants will meet with business owners for one-on-one consultations to help entrepreneurs with topics such as eCommerce, bookkeeping, sales and more.
Is your business eligible for no-cost consulting?
The COVID Resource Network is designed to assist small business owners who are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. For-profit businesses must be owned and operated by an entrepreneur who is in one of these groups: female, minority, socially or economically disadvantaged. The business has to have been operational prior to February 15, 2020. And lastly, the company has to show it has been directly impacted by COVID-19, through any of the following: loss of revenue, employment loss, temporary closure of business, business model pivot, or restricted by government regulations.
“We used our vast network of local business consultants to develop a curated suite of business mentors, for expert one-on-one business advice to give entrepreneurs the tools they need to come out of this crisis stronger than ever,” says Soko. “Businesses owners who need assistance in Bookkeeping, Accounting, Legal, Human Resources, Marketing & Web Design, eCommerce, Sales & Acquisitions, IT and other areas can get guidance from our experts.”
How to Get Started
Interested businesses should apply to get started on their COVID response plan. If your business or a business you know would benefit from any of these service offerings through the CRN, share or start the application today: wbcohio.org/crn.
Help is Available for All
Is your organization ineligible for the COVID Response Network? We encourage prospective business owners to become a Women’s Business Center member! Members have access to our Professional Advisory Network, online workshops & trainings and many other benefits. Learn more at wbcohio.org/membership.
This mutli-part sponsored series highlighting ECDI’s work in Columbus is presented with paid support by ECDI.
Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.