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Facebook announces $100m fund to help small businesses cope with Covid-19

By Lawrence Gash

Tech giant to offer cash grants and ad credits

Facebook (FB) has announced a $100m (£83m, €91m) fund to help up to 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries to help them cope with the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

In a post the company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg stated: “We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them. We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.”

The novel coronavirus outbreak has upset global markets since mid-January. While major corporations are poised to feel the effects of government intervention and stimulus more immediately, smaller and medium businesses face less certain futures.

In recent days governments around the world have sought to reassure these firms. Discussing the country’s unemployment rate, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasised the need to revitalise small businesses and traders if larger companies are to return to full productivity. Meanwhile, the French president Emmanuel Macron has stated: “No business will be allowed to fail.”

Facebook is a tech giant which, along with Google (GOOGL), has an effective duopoly over online advertising revenue. While leading corporations pay significant sums to advertise to tailored sections of the social network’s user base, many small businesses also use the service to reach potential customers.

Consequently, while the majority of the $100m figure will come in the form of cash grants to help firms pay rent and cover operational costs, ad credits will also be made available to help them jump start commerce once widespread shutdowns end.

Facebook stated that the details for how businesses can apply will be made available soon.

The company itself has suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, falling 31 per cent in the past month alone.

FURTHER READING: China’s economic collapse worse than expected

FURTHER READING: Gold prices plunge amid Covid-19 crisis

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