Money will help small businesses pay salaries, build up supplies during pandemic
Salesforce is offering small businesses up to $10,000 in grants to help them stay afloat as the COVID-19 crisis batters the economy.
The Lowdown: The Sofware-as-a-Service (SaaS) giant is throwing a $5 million lifeline this month to small companies as the federal government struggles to get billions of dollars set aside for the hard-hit community to the businesses that need them the most.
The Details: The company is offering Salesforce Care Small Business Grants to give SMBs money that can be used to pay salaries, replenish supplies, or adapt their business models to address the challenges the pandemic has created. The grants are being made available to U.S. companies this month. Salesforce later will release more information about similar financial support to international small businesses.
Salesforce is keeping in contact with many of its SMB customers, Meredith Schmidt, executive vice president and general manager of Essentials and SMB, wrote in a blog post. That includes Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which launched in 2016 and employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The company, with locations in North and South Carolina, Maryland, and Georgia, had to close all five coffee shops and lay off all employees. Salesforce committed to buying $50,000 in merchandise.
The business grants comes after the vendor made access to its Salesforce Essentials small-business solution available free to help SMBs support customers remotely and to Tableau for analytics. Salesforce’s resource page for small businesses includes articles and webinars from small-business experts.
Background: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff last month moved to protect employee jobs by announcing that the company would not conduct any significant layoffs for at least 90 days during the coronavirus outbreak, adding that Salesforce will continue paying its hourly workers and hoping employees would do the same, paying such workers as housekeepers and dog walkers.
Salesforce also has donated $500,000 to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund and $1 million to the University of California San Francisco’s COVID-19 Response Fund. In addition, the company is matching employee donations to other aid organizations.
The Buzz: “We know that small businesses can be some of the most innovative and resilient trailblazers, and we encourage everyone to support the small businesses in their neighborhood by buying gift cards, ordering curbside or takeout, and sharing your favorite small businesses on social media with the hashtag #SmallBizLove to spread the word,” Schmidt wrote.
“The three Cs are: communicate, communicate, and communicate — and I don’t just mean with your customers,” said Ben Wright, co-owner of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. “I mean with your employees, with your vendors, your suppliers — everybody. Everybody is in the same boat, everybody’s figuring this out, and you’re not always going to have the right answers or even a good answer, but just letting people know what you are trying to do. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”