Small business owners have been one of the groups hit hardest by the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus pandemic. Reports have shown that 1 in 4 small businesses will be permanently closed due to the viral outbreak. To save American business owners, the government created the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses maintain their workforce amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Some black business owners, however, argue that the program is doing more harm than good.
Vania Bredy is the owner of Bredy Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation in South Florida with her husband, Yonel Bredy. They are one of the many small business owners across the country in need of the program to keep their business afloat. Bredy says they have been trying to apply for a PPP grant since the program opened. She also says she contacted her bank multiple times but has gotten no response. Wells Fargo sent an automated message stating she’s in the queue of applicants but has provided no further update. As a result of the pandemic, Bredy and her husband were forced to lay off one of their employees.
“I feel like the application is a black hole and they’re going to apply all these criteria that we can’t meet as black business owners,” Bredy said in an interview with Moguldom. “I was excited about it at first, but as time went on, I just feel like it’s just a hoax and it’s going to be difficult for us. I don’t know anyone who’s gotten any funds in their account and I know at least 10 different healthcare providers that tried to apply.”
Dominique Jones, who owns Jam Box Fitness in Dallas, says she also has applied for PPP with two different banks where she has business accounts—Regions Bank and Wood Forest National Bank— and hasn’t heard any response back.
“I have applied through both and I have not heard anything from either and also no one at the bank really knows anything. They just know the top 10 high points and everything else is ‘call SBA, call SBA, call SBA,’” explained Jones. With three locations each with a full staff, Jones has been struggling to keep the doors open. “I definitely have fears that I’ll never see the money. I don’t have a lot of stock in getting funding to be honest, just because the numbers are so staggering and nobody knows anything.”