It’s a life or death situation right now for thousands of small businesses on Vancouver Island.
But a Victoria tech company is stepping up to help in this time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson and the team at Tiny Capital are offering Greater Victoria small businesses interest-free loans to help with the cash crunch.
Wilkinson works mainly in the tech sector but he’s invested in some brick and mortar businesses like Ottavio Italian Bakery and Deli in Oak Bay and says he’s seen the crisis first-hand.
“We saw just how difficult this was right from front lines,” Wilkinson says. “Ottavio had to lay off many many staff members and it was a very difficult week and we’re a big group of companies and it was incredibly difficult both on an emotional level and a financial level. And we thought, ‘oh my God, imagine if this was our only business how gut-wrenching and challenging this would be’.”
With so many businesses having to temporarily close or scale back operations, cash flow is a major issue.
Wilkinson says he hopes to give out hundreds of these loans.
They’ll range from $500 to around $2,500 to start.
He says they can be used to pay rent or salary costs for a critical employee or to pay a supplier — whatever is needed to get through this difficult time and enable the business to hang on for another month and ride out the crisis.
“Every level of business is struggling and it just has ripple effects throughout the entire world,” Wilkinson says. “Huge corporations, multi-million dollar businesses are at risk of going bankrupt and laying off tens of thousands of people. I don’t think I’ve talked to a single business owner who isn’t panicked right now.”
Wilkinson says restaurateurs he’s talked to estimate 40 per cent of Victoria restaurants will fail as a result of the COVID pandemic.
He says he’s trying to do what he can to help them and other businesses.
Under the terms of the loan, Tiny Capital can’t make any money or even enforce the re-payment of the loan.
To apply for the Tiny Victoria Small Business Relief Fund click on this link.