Bumble to the rescue: private-sector help for businesses waiting on relief

Some companies are stepping up to help their peers with government programs choked by demand.


April 16, 2020

At this point, the government’s coronavirus relief loans for small businesses are even harder to snag than an online grocery delivery slot. (No, hitting refresh and throwing salt over your shoulder won’t help.)

In fact, The Wall Street Journal said yesterday that the $349B Paycheck Protection Program was expected to run out of money entirely after less than 2 weeks.

While the bureaucrats are bumblin’ about how to fix the cash crunch, one company is beating them to the punch: Bumble.

As Bloomberg noted, the dating app is part of a growing group of private-sector companies that are extending lifelines to their smaller peers. And fast: Bumble got a $5k grant into the hands of a DC restaurant owner in 2 weeks.

The money matters a LOT

Wednesday brought another one of those trend lines that makes our anxiety flare up (love ya, Commerce Department!): Retail sales plunged 8.7% in March — the sharpest drop since the government started tracking the figures in 1992.

Any money that small businesses can scrounge up probably comes as a relief, since 1 in 10 of them say they’re less than a month away from going under for good.

The aid is especially critical for black-owned businesses, many of which are at high risk of getting no federal assistance.

Everybody grant now

A few big names in the business world have rolled out programs to help, with some of the aid aimed at women and minority-owned businesses:

  • Hello Alice, a startup incubator that focuses on supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs, is offering $10k grants to businesses affected by the pandemic.
  • The personal care company SheaMoisture unveiled a $1m fund for women of color entrepreneurs.
  • Inc. and Entrepreneur published comprehensive lists of other funding sources. More than 55k business owners have applied for a piece of Verizon’s $2.5m grant program.

As for Bumble’s contributions: It’s offering 185 grants (about $1m in total), with the first wave focused on US restaurant owners and other foodservice businesses.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill…

…you might as well call EIDL IDLE.

The government’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which is separate from the $349B PPP, is overwhelmed with applications.

Update: This post has been updated with more information about how many grants Bumble is offering — 185.

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