As most of you who read this blog know, I live in the New York City area. I was one of the fortunate ones to whom Hurricane Sandy meant a few hours of lost power and inconvenience. But it’s heart-wrenching to hear the stories coming in. Many people in Long Island, New Jersey, and New York City still don’t have power. I’ve heard from at least two friends on Facebook whose houses were destroyed.
Perhaps the hardest hit were small businesses. And I’m not just talking about small businesses whose property were destroyed by the hurricane. There are many, many other small businesses in the tri-state area that are dealing with weeks and weeks of cleanup, destroyed inventories, and business grinding to a halt due to people not going out of their homes. These businesses had been struggling before due to the poor economy, but for many of them the hurricane was the straw that threatens to break their back.
It goes without saying that you should give generously to great organizations who are working hard to provide shelter and food to those who were directly hit by the storm. I’ve posted a list here.
While in the next few weeks it’s these organizations that will need the most help, I really appreciated something that Groupon did that’ll help the region recover. They put up this page where you can give a $5, $10, or $25 donation to help fund microloans to be given to assist small businesses as they recover from the devastation.
Accion is a non-profit organization that’s also a trusted name and leader in microfinance. What is microfinance? Put simply, it’s providing relatively small loans (from $500 to $50,000) to small businesses that big banks tend to turn their backs to. Some of these businesses may be started by entrepreneurs who don’t have much of a credit history or who don’t have the same connections as those big businesses that the big banks throw money at. Most of these businesses have fewer than 5 employees, and yet as you hear both Governor Romney and President Obama say, it’s these business that need to thrive in order for the US Economy to come back. Accion doesn’t just throw money at a business–they carefully screen businesses to make sure they’re legitimate and provide education and mentoring to help these businesses have the best chance of succeeding.
Donations to Accion are important even when times are good; but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they’re critical. Help these businesses recover and rebuild. And if you’re in the New York City, Long Island, or New Jersey areas, consider stopping by a local restaurant or shop and supporting them. They’ll be happy to serve you.