Facebook, in partnership with the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has recently published the Wave II update of the Global State of Small Business Report. The update is based on the second wave of new data on the state of SMBs collected from June 24 – 30, 2020, capturing the views of 25,000 businesses in 50 countries including the United Arab Emirates.
With several governments around the world starting to loosen COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, SMBs in these economies have begun to resume their in-person operations, although often in a limited manner. According to the report, in the UAE, 79 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on Facebook are now open for business, up from 65 percent in May earlier this year, demonstrating a gradual improvement and a resilience to fight and survive in a post-COVID-19 world.
Globally, those sectors most impacted by lockdowns are also the ones reopening fastest – for example, in the hospitality sector, the number of hotels, cafes and restaurants closed fell 13 percent, from 32 percent down to 19 percent. Within the services sector, consumer-facing sub-sectors across the world also saw significant drops in closure rates: travel and tourism agencies (23 percentage point drop, to 31 percent), hospitality and event services (14 percentage point drop, to 33 percent), and education and child care services (13 percentage point drop, to 31 percent).
However, financial issues appear to be a sticking point on the road to recovery for all businesses, with cash flow still a problem for SMBs in the UAE. The proportion of UAE SMBs that referenced cash flow as a key ongoing challenge in June was 47 percent, down just 1 percent from figures in May (48 percent). In fact, the report further states that 42 percent of SMBs on Facebook in June reported lack of assistance, as compared to the 29 percent in May.
As part of its effort to support small businesses in their economic recovery following COVID-19, Facebook has announced a grant of USD $544,609 for eligible SMBs in Dubai. The grant is made up of cash grants and Facebook ad credits and is part of Facebook’s pledge in March earlier this year where it announced a $100 million grant program to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where its employees live and work, to offer them vital support through the period of uncertainty when things are tough.
“Despite showing an incredible amount of resilience and creativity during the pandemic, small businesses still face major challenges. For many, cash flow is among their biggest difficulties. Direct financial support can make a difference in helping many of them pay their employees and keep their doors open for business. This is a part of our broader effort to support businesses, especially small businesses, in this time of need due to the impact of COVID-19,” said Ramez Shehadi, managing director, Facebook MENA.
Starting today, businesses can go to facebook.com/grantsforbusiness to see whether they are eligible, how to apply, timelines and for more details about the program.
Besides the grant announced for SMBs, Facebook recently launched Facebook Shops to make it easier to sell online and created a Business Resource Hub, where small business owners can get training, advice and information including guidance from healthcare experts.