Social media giant Facebook on March 17 announced that it is offering $100Mn in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses during coronavirus pandemic. Facebook said the grants will be available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.
Facebook will begin accepting applications in the coming weeks. The company said the programme can help businesses with rent and operational costs, maintaining workforce and connecting with customers.
The company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a post, “We want to do more. Teams across our company are working every day to help businesses. We’re looking at additional ways to host virtual training – and will have more to share in the coming weeks – and we’re finding more ways to help people connect and learn to use technology through Blueprint, our free e-learning training program.”
Along with benefits for the businesses, Facebook has also announced that it’s partnering with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to offer a total of $1 Mn in grants for US and Canadian newsrooms that need more resources to properly cover the pandemic. These individual grants will be for up to $5,000.
With these commitments, Facebook joins the club of technology giants making efforts to help businesses and workers amid the pandemic, which has killed nearly 8K people across the world. For instance, Uber is setting up a fund to help drivers who are either infected or quarantined by Covid-19. Besides Uber, its competitor Lyft, and other companies such as food delivery platform DoorDash, hyperlocal delivery service provider Postmates, and grocery delivery company Instacart are also pooling money for this fund. This means that the fund will be used to help driver or delivery partners, who are either infected or quarantined by Covid-19, at all these services.
In India, startups have taken up the onus to advice government on an action plan to deal with the pandemic. Nearly 70 startup founders and investors have suggested that the government should impose strict lockdowns and Section 144 or curfew law against group gatherings across major cities by March 20 for two weeks.
Founders and investors have come together with their suggestions on why should India act now. These include founders of Bounce, Homelane, Cred, Urban Company, BlackBuck, MyGate, 1mg, MapMyIndia as well as venture capitalists like Matrix Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners among others.
The government has further realised the need to open up the search for solutions to the startup ecosystem with the ‘Covid-19 Solution Challenge’. Announcing the launch of the challenge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and urged startups and entrepreneurs to come up with their technology-backed solution to curb the coronavirus outbreak.