The coronavirus pandemic has generated unusual financial support. The Sars-Cov-2 health crisis is a page in history yet to be turned. Small business assistance in Philly will lend a helping hand to small business owners. They will help those who have stayed in the battle and want to keep fighting.
We spoke with Kersey Azócar about a micro-grant plan aimed at Latino small business owners. She is the City’s grant program manager of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). Her talent in the area of finance has been used to manage the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. PIDC’s Kersy Azócar knows where the “pesos” are.
The City of Philadelphia was allocated $17 million that will be transformed into assistance for small businesses. The funding is aimed at hospitality entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that they have lost at least 25% of their future revenues due to the economic contraction forced by the pandemic. Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on every case. For Pennsylvania as a whole, the assistance is $150 million.
According to data provided by Kersy Azócar, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 businesses in Philly that are eligible to “apply” for assistance. As a condition, they must have NAICS 721 or 722 code designation. NAICS is the acronym for the North American Industry Classification System. Small business owners are required to fill out the application at www.pidcphila.com. In addition, the following documents must be submitted: 2019 taxes, financial statements, or profit and loss, for 2019 and 2020 and a signed Form W9. All these steps must be completed before April 12.
Small business assistance
Kersy Azócar is a financial professional with deep roots in the Latino community. She was born in Santo Domingo although her family is from La Vega. “Dad was given a job contract in New York as a promoter and he brought the whole family with him. In the “Big Apple” we lasted about three years. My family always had business and my parents always came, they always traveled. We were no strangers when coming here. But it was a cultural shock to leave Santo Domingo and come to live in New York in the late nineties.”
Our interviewee is very familiar with the nature of Small Business Assistance. Her work in the area of finance has always had a social framework. A 13-year experience in the area of micro-lending distinguishes her. In Philadelphia, she started with Finanta, an NGO that merged with Community First Fund.
“I have always helped and served the community. You don’t know anything about this world until you interact with small businesses. Until you’re on the inside, you only know superficially what’s going on. You hear that they are the engine of the economy, but it’s really when you start working in this field that you see the challenges. And you see all the things that small businesses are experiencing.
“I have always helped and served the community. You don’t know anything about this world until you have interaction with small businesses. Until you’re on the inside, you only know superficially what’s going on. You hear that they are the economic engine, but it’s really when you start working in this field that you see the challenges. And you see all the things that small businesses are experiencing.”
Where the dollars are
“Working with small businesses is always a big challenge,” said Kersy Azócar. “It’s frustrating not to be able to give them everything they need. It is an extraordinary challenge. They require bookkeeping, help with insurance, taxes… You can’t be everything for small businesses. That has always been an obstacle to overcome.”
Regarding small business assistance, Kersy Azócar from PIDC is the one who knows how to get the money. “There are two parts. One is what information they need to fill out the application. The other is what documents they are going to submit. To ‘apply’ they need to know how many employees they had during COVID in 2020, the income generated, address, TAX ID number or EIN (Employer Identification Number). And something very important, if people have the ET, they are also eligible to apply. This is important because many times they are excluded. That’s what they would need to apply.
“In terms of filing documents, we are only asking for three. 2019 taxes, financial statements, what it tells you in profit and loss from 2019 and 2020 and a Form W9 that they’re going to sign. That’s it. All the rest of the information is mostly a personal certification. In short it’s a testimonial of tax solvency and that they are in compliance with all the city rules.”
More resources coming
On the horizon, the landscape does not look clear. The vaccine has not achieved a surrender declaration of the virus. In addition, various political and scientific circles believe that there is still a long way to go before victory can be claimed.
The words of our interviewee offer some peace of mind to small business owners. The financial assistance that is about to be distributed will not be the only small business assistance there will be. “That is why we encourage all small businesses to be ready. They should have all their documents in order. They can also contact our community entities. The development center at Widener and Temple University is ideal. There are different entities that can help you organize your documents. The answer is yes, help is going to keep coming, but it is important that our community is informed. It happens that the money comes, but it doesn’t get to where it needs to go. I appreciate this opportunity because that’s what we want, to get this message out to our small businesses”.
Available consulting services
No one learns to walk alone. All of us at some point in our development have received help. In terms of assistance to small entrepreneurs, Kersy Azócar is a mine of knowledge. She knows their needs and the dimension of the challenge they face on a daily basis.
With that certainty, our financial agent went a step further. Her vocation as a servant led her to the counseling field. She carries a lot of wisdom in her life’s saddlebags. “We can treat with the same respect and love someone who is looking for a $600 loan, or a thousand dollars, or someone who wants a million. We know how to make that connection. We know the story of the one who started with a thousand dollars and went on to get half a million dollars.”
Her priority is administering the small business assistance of the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, CHIRP. But in between is her involvement with Widener University’s Small Business Development Center. There she plays the role of consultant. “That also allows me to continue, provide and connect small businesses with the assistance they need.”
PIDC is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institutions). They have a designation to help the community. They provide microloans and large loans as well. They have managed several programs in the city of Philadelphia. One of the latest ones they are coordinating is CHIRP. With it they can give ‘grants’ to small businesses that are eligible in that industry between $5,000 and $50,000.
Traducción: José Espinoza