Over the past three months, my team and I have been almost 100% dedicated to Paycheck Protection Program (P3) Loans. When most individuals were quarantined in their homes, increasing the time spent with loved ones, our families were overlooked as we spent thousands of hours adding PPP lenders to our market, creating demand-side technology. to start a PPP loan from scratch and help 100,000 small businesses save their American dream.

While I describe the experience as the one that took 10 years of my life, it was also one of the most meaningful opportunities of my career. Our team rallied around the idea of ​​helping millions of small business workers keep their jobs during the worst economic crisis of our lives. This report released today shows Lendio’s impact on small businesses through PPP loan approvals to date. For my team, it’s hearing the individual stories of the business owners we help that make the early mornings, late nights and stressful days worth it.

Here are some of the stories that have stood out for me over the past few months.

“It’s my livelihood, what are we going to do?” “

Wendy Harris has described herself as “a corporate grumbler for most of her career,” but seven years ago she finally realized her dream of becoming a business owner when she opened her doors. Craft beer shop, a bar and retail store in Raleigh, North Carolina

But like many small businesses across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a devastating threat to business owners such as Harris, forcing him to shut the doors of Crafty for months as part of it. ‘a government-mandated lockdown. Without foot traffic, businesses like his had to lay off their staff and not be able to pay their rent.

“It was pretty devastating,” she said. At the time, she said to herself, “This is my livelihood, what are we going to do? “

Across the country, Tamara Oreshkin was forced to shut down her more than two-decade-old business for more than two months. She owns Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian pastry shop in Bellevue, Washington.

“I was scared. I’m still scared, even now,” she said. “People aren’t coming back here. Our sales are a third of the usual, even on a good day. We hope for the best. , but we don’t know what’s going to happen here.

A temporary lifeline in the event of a disaster

Small business owners like Harris and Oreshkin find some relief in the federal government’s agenda that was included in the March CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law. The loan program was originally intended for business owners to keep their employees on the payroll, but it has since been expanded to cover expenses, including rent. As The Wall Street Journal reported, it is not clear how far the cancellation of the loan would go.

Since the launch of the program in April, more than 520 billion dollars in loans were approved for distribution to over 4.8 million businesses, with an average loan of approximately $ 107,000. The maximum quantity companies can borrow is equal to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs. According to the SBA, there were approximately 30.7 million small businesses in the United States in 2019, employing 59.9 million people, nearly half of the country’s jobs. This means that only about 15% of all US small businesses have received a P3 loan.

But for companies that have received a PPP loan, the funds serve as a temporary lifeline during the worst disaster of modern times, when other means of financing have already dried up. Without PPP, many businesses would fail.

“I could never have paid my people without it,” said Harris, who added that the funds helped her pay a month’s rent. Oreshkin also used the funds from his small loan to cover the payroll. As both entrepreneurs work in the hard-hit restaurant industry, they recognize that more relief will be needed to keep businesses like theirs afloat.

“We don’t have a profit now, we’re just trying to survive,” Oreshkin said. “I just do my job and try to do it the best I can. I don’t know what solution could help us.

Room to perform a pandemic pivot

For companies in other sectors, PPP money has gone further. Los Angeles based recording studio Sunset sound had never closed in its 60-year history of recording musicians such as The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga. But when LA issued a shutdown order across town, the studio had to quickly end all of its sessions and go out of business. The owner applied for a PPP loan and finally got approval after weeks of waiting.

“In fact, I don’t know what we would do without the PPP funds,” said Paul Camarata, president of the company. “Since we were shut down for almost two months, we’ve turned off all the equipment, and it’s not like you can turn it back on and everything is working fine. I had to bring the whole team back and get the studios back up and running, which took weeks.

The funds will be used to pay staff salaries from the end of April to the end of this month. The studio is now back in business, with social distancing and other health measures in place.

For northern California Five fitness points and based in Los Angeles Bagels by unit, obtaining PPP loans made it possible to implement pivots to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic. Five Points had previously turned to online courses to retain its members, with the loan money being used to pay its trainers.

“Your big concern as a business is how long can you bleed and survive [until you are] able to reopen your doors, ”said Five Points co-owner Bryan LeFebure, who appreciates being able to pay employee paychecks during the shutdown.

David Long of Unity Bagels used PPP money to support The turn of unity do-it-yourself bagel kits.

Even for organizations that haven’t received a lot of money, supporting a PPP loan has made all the difference in the world.

“Our PPP loan is probably one of the smallest, but it is not small for us” said Elaine Eckhart, executive director of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. “It made a big difference in our ability to keep our entire organization, to be able to pay our staff and our musicians and not to erode our reserves.”

Help save the American dream

For those of us in the small business lending industry, our mission quickly shifted from fueling the American dream to saving it. Financial institutions had never experienced this level of demand for funds; most lenders have experienced a hundred times higher demand than usual, with just a few days to prepare for the process. Yet that doesn’t compare to the unspeakable stress of millions of business owners across the country, who clamored for the same amount of money in order to get on with their lifetimes’ work.

Through PPP, we and many of our peer lenders have established new relationships with small business clients. As these companies are the lifeblood of our economy, we have a vested interest in building long-term relationships with them as they embark on the road to recovery. The industry has also forged many new partnerships, which will continue as we seek to provide short and long term financial solutions. Our technology helps financial institutions with the loan cancellation process, which will be just as laborious and complicated for many institutions as the financing process has been.

Quick access to capital will always be vital, not just in times of downturn. We also pledge to further support minority and women owned businesses. Our mission is to make capital accessible to as many small business owners as possible. Hearing the stories of some of the business owners who receive vital P3 funds is heartening and an encouraging sign of America’s ability to rebuild and recover.

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