Envolve Entrepreneurship’s Response to COVID-19
May 26, 2020 – Humanity is facing an unprecedented pandemic. We are witnessing how these extraordinary times have taken us all by surprise and entrepreneurs and business owners are some of the hardest hit. At Envolve, we have asked ourselves a question that we’re happy to witness any other organizations and individuals have asked as well: What can we do to help and how can we engage our community in this response?
Recognizing that access to resources is critical for any business to strategize around business continuity and innovate during COVID, we have created an extensive online database on our website that includes information on grants, work from home resources, financial relief program and more. Our Resilience Kit also provides external resources and tools assisting with different issues and to various initiatives by the private sector supporting small businesses.
We have also expanded our Entrepreneur Toolkit, which offers free, ready-to-use downloadable tools and templates in Word and Excel. In addition to a lean business canvas, invoice and financial ratio calculator, we now have a SWOT Analysis to help entrepreneurs identify their objectives, competitive advantage, and factors that impact their venture. Download this template in Word format!
In addition, our Greece and USA teams have expanded our programming, from webinars to panels, in response to COVID-19.
In Greece, the team is collaborating with various partners to host webinars on topics aimed to support entrepreneurs. In collaboration with Chivas Venture Greece, the team moderated and participated in a Facebook Live webinar, “Virtual Elevator Pitch – How to.” The session discussed ways to pitch an idea remotely through a virtual elevator pitch. Envolve Greece took part in another Facebook Live webinar entitled “Survival Guide For Startups” organized by Samsung Greece and INNOVATHENS Powered by Samsung on May 25th. Alexandros Nousias, Greece Country Director, provided survival tips for startups and described how Envolve focused on tips and good practices from experienced professionals for startup business owners, especially during this difficult period.
Additionally, the team continues to offer regular support to its past winners through resources, networking, and programming. Despite the current environment, former winners have shown leadership during this time. Recently, two past Envolve Greece Award winners (Apifon & MyJobNow) and two of Envolve Award Greece finalists (100Mentors & Sentio Solutions) were featured on this year’s 40 under 40 Fortune Greece list.
Former Envolve Award winners have stepped up to support their communities. Apifon, is offering free Viber Sender ID registration, without requiring the minimum monthly consumption fee for the months of April, May, and June. Blueground is donating 100 apartments to those in need, supporting the global fight against COVID. In collaboration with Medecins du Monde Greece, Booking Clinic is offering free remote medical consulting.
The team will also participate in the Capital Link CSR annual event, Economy & Society: The Next Day, which will take place digitally on June 23rd. This conference will highlight how different areas of economic activity can play a key role in this new reality post-pandemic. This includes the importance of Greek startup companies and their future within the economy and society.
We continue to advocate that entrepreneurs and business owners’ voices must be heard. That’s why we circulated a survey amongst our community to better understand how COVID directly affected them and their businesses. 98.8% of the small business owners who answered this particular question said their business was directly impacted by COVID-19. In addition, we realized that there were three issues that concerned the vast majority of responders: cash flow challenges (89%), lack of customers and sales (76%), and paying employees (67%). The Envolve Entrepreneurship USA team sent the survey responses and statistics to policy makers on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. This quick connection between policy makers to small business owners is of great importance to the entire ecosystem. The ability to establish such a partnership within a strict time frame, is an important characteristic that we believe sets us apart as an organization .
We are continuously collecting entrepreneurs’ experiences with COVID and the federal stimulus programs, so if you would like to add your experience and advocate for your business, please do so here.
Continuing our partnership with the committee, the USA team hosted a Q&A conference call with Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee staff on March 26th. The conference call was held only a day after the CARES Act was passed by the Senate. We acted quickly to connecting the Envolve community directly with the policy makers responsible for structuring this important bill and get them the information they needed to know about the small business relief programs
On April 7th, our Board Member, Christopher Upperman, participated as a panelist on an “Entrepreneurs Navigating Through Constant Change” webinar hosted by AnitaB.org’s President and CEO Brena Darden Wilkerson. You can listen to the recording using this link, but we were honored to be mentioned in Brenda Wilkerson’s recent Forbes piece on why entrepreneurs will lead the economy’s $2.3 trillion post COVID-19 recovery!
On April 8th, Christopher Upperman participated in the National Society of Black Engineers’ Virtual Town Hall on the CARES Act. On April 21st, he kicked off Trap Karaoke’s From Here Instagram Live series by discussing the economic importance of small and medium-owned businesses and sharing insights and tips on navigating these challenging times.
On April 23rd, Facebook & Envolve Entrepreneurship hosted a free webinar to share more about Facebook’s $100M Small Business Grant Program. Diana Doukas, Manager of Economic Impact for the U.S. Policy Program at Facebook addressed the application requirements and process, specifically for U.S. businesses that can receive $2,500 cash grants and $1,500 in ad credits. She also talked about Facebook’s long tradition of supporting small businesses, from training opportunities, e-learning curriculums to partnerships with community colleges as well as new resources such as the fundraising tool and online gift cards to help support small businesses during COVID-19. To learn more, check out Facebook’s Business Resource Hub.
As part of Concordia’s COVID-19 weekly webinar series, Christopher R. Upperman, Board Member of Envolve Entrepreneurship, interviewed Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, on the CARES Act and how it’s evolving to meet the needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises. Click here to access the recording as well as Concordia’s readout with a list of additional resources!
We are proud to look back and acknowledge all of our responses so far in dealing with the COVID-19 situation. In the past month, we have engaged with parties and partners across all sectors. At Envolve Entrepreneurship, we’re always on the watch for the latest updates and we’ll keep on delivering resourceful and practical programs to our community. If you are interested in partnering with our organization to provide further support to entrepreneurs in Greece and the United States, please contact us!