Facebook Canada has announced a series of initiatives to aid small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) during the coronavirus pandemic, including $3.5 million in grants, virtual training classes and new features to help promote SMBs across numerous apps owned by the social media giant, according to a press release.
The grants will be available between May 26 and June 2 for Canadian SMBs looking for financial aid. SMB "owners can apply for grants of more than $5,000 in cash and ad credits," according to the release, and grants will be open to any businesses in the Canadian cities where Facebook operates: Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Vancouver.
Facebook Canada also plans to aid SMBs in transitioning to digital operations to better help them combat the current global business environment in which many people have massively shifted their shopping habits to digital means to avoid going out and potentially catching the virus.
But many SMBs had not yet caught on. According to the press release, four in 10 Canadian SMBs had not established an eCommerce website in 2019. Back in 2017, almost half of them, 46 percent, reported not even having any kind of website.
Facebook Canada will aim to help with that by running a free virtual training series in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the chamber's Canadian Business Resilience Network on how to create an eCommerce site and transition to digital operations. The first session will take place June 3.
Facebook has also expanded its efforts to let individuals support SMBs, adding new options to start fundraisers for pandemic-affected businesses, allowing SMBs to share gift card options on social media, and adding a Support Small Business sticker on Instagram that lets people shout out specific businesses they support.
In related news, this month, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced that the company would be donating $20 million of a $40 million SMB grant package to U.S. businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans, as those groups could have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
The social media giant announced in March that it would be spending $100 million on SMB grants worldwide.