SYDNEY, Australia – Facebook has opened the applications to its latest worldwide program to the Australian market, granting support to small businesses heavily struck by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The largest and most famous social media site worldwide, Facebook, has brought its program supporting pandemic-struck small businesses to Australia. The social media giant has announced the opening of applications for small businesses located in Sydney and Melbourne, where their offices are located.
Facebook has already started sending messages and emails to local businesses through their Facebook page operators on Wednesday, citing application invitations. This initiative is a part of Facebook’s program amounting to 100 million dollars worth of grants given as support for small businesses offered to the worldwide audience.
Facebook has already previously announced the program in March, citing its commitment to supporting small businesses during the pandemic. The offer of grants includes cash grants and Facebook ad credits.
Over 30,000 eligible small businesses from over 30 countries where Facebook offices are located will be the said program’s constituents.
The general requirements for eligible small businesses applying for the program worldwide are as follows:
- For-profit company business
- Only 2 to 50 employees as of January 1, 2020
- Have been operating for more than a year
- Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Located in areas with Facebook offices
In Australia alone, there is already an estimated number of 465 small businesses to benefit from the grants to be provided by the social media giant. In total, Facebook is offering up to 3 million dollars in grants to its Australian beneficiaries. On average, successful small business applicants will receive up to 6,400 dollars from the program. This total amount will be divided into 4,000 dollars of cash grants and 2,400 dollars worth of Facebook ad credits, which can be used optionally.
Although Facebook has already started contacting businesses through Facebook page operators, the company has already clarified that social media presence, especially Facebook, is not a requirement for the program. Small businesses are encouraged to contact Facebook offices or do online applications, even without an active Facebook page.
Applicants need only to have the latest 2020 copy of their extracted business registration from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to apply for the program. Small businesses also have to qualify for the basic qualifications provided by the company for the Australian market. The program is only open for businesses located in Sydney and Melbourne, where Facebook offices are located. It is also required that the business is already operating for over a year, with only 2 to 50 employees as of January 1 of this year. Facebook is also particular in approving applications for small businesses directly and heavily impacted by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants for the Small Business Grants Programme can send applications until the 22nd of this month.
This effort by Facebook is a part of its ongoing commitment to helping SMEs located in challenged areas worldwide. Since 2018, this advocacy has already assisted over 18,000 small businesses in Australia through the “Boost with Facebook” program. The said program provides free education to SME owners and operators, helping communities affected by natural catastrophes like bushfires, droughts, and this pandemic.
This program initiated by Facebook opened despite issues the federal government proposed a code of conduct about online news content. The proposed code will mandate online and tech companies to have required payments for local news content should it be approved. This proposal is in response to the advocacy of providing better news content in the country, and to also support local news outlets.
Facebook and Google are among the companies and institutions that debated and retaliated on the said proposal. Just recently, Facebook has already threatened local sites and groups about blocking the posting and sharing local news content on the platform. Due to the proposed regulations, Facebook might be forced to have stricter rules on using the platform.
After this warning, Google was also compelled to strike on the proposed mandate, publishing an open letter that indicates the impact of the code on Australians’ search experience.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also pushed back to these companies, indicating that the proposed law will greatly benefit media companies. As the tech platforms will be required to pay media companies, the industry is set to flourish, especially at this time. The said proposed legislation also gained massive support from large giant companies, particularly local newspapers and media outlets, as they will be the primary sector that will benefit once the code is approved.
Facebook and Google further added that this move would slash out a great number of ad revenues and greatly affect small businesses in the country.
Meanwhile, small businesses were also seen as a priority of the national government in drafting COVID-19 responses. In recent data, small businesses are among the largest beneficiaries of many pandemic relief packages offered by giant banks in line with the government’s efforts.
In recent House of Representative parliamentary hearings, the big four banks of the country presented to the Finance Committee the efforts extended to medium and small businesses during the pandemic. These banks revealed interest cuts on business loans and loan deferrals for up to six months and other extensions. New business loans for small and medium business owners were also approved with repayment deferrals. The government has also provided support through various schemes such as the JobKeeper payments for small businesses.