It’s been almost six months since California first locked down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outlook for small businesses remains shaky. Having reopened and shut back down after a spike in cases, business owners and self-employed workers are adapting to a new normal with fluctuating income, shifting operations, and little control over their future working conditions.
CAMEO members have seen this impact first-hand. Through your submissions to our COVID-19 Response Survey, we can see the ways in which many of you have worked to meet changes in demand for your services and products. Below is a summary of the results from the survey, including data from California’s SBDC and WBC networks.
One of the biggest changes many CAMEO members have seen since the start of the pandemic is the volume of client inquiries. About 80% of survey respondents saw an increase in clients over the past few months at an average of 155% more clients per month compared to before the outbreak.
Demand for training has been especially high; California’s WBC network trained almost five times as many entrepreneurs between March and May 2020 as they did in the same period of 2019.
Access to Capital
With a large number of small business owners having to shut down or severely limit operations for an extended period of time, many of them found themselves in dire financial straits and looking for relief. In response, CAMEO members have been providing grants, loans, and loan packaging services to as many entrepreneurs as possible. All the respondents to our survey are offering some kind of financial assistance, with 67% providing grants, 33% providing loans, and 17% providing loan packaging services.
Of these forms of financial assistance, around one-third come from emergency loan or grant funds created specifically to address the needs of small business owners impacted by COVID-19. Overall, CAMEO members who responded to our survey have provided more than $25 million in financial assistance. Meanwhile, the SBDC and WBC networks provided more than $350 million in loans and loan packaging services.
Small businesses haven’t been the only ones affected by the pandemic and ensuing regulations. Most CAMEO members have had to make stark changes to their day-to-day operations, some of which include:
- Moving all programs and services online
- Streamlining processes and reducing focus areas to become more efficient
- Providing COVID-specific resources to clients
- Focusing on business resiliency in their trainings
- Partnering with other organizations to help entrepreneurs who fall through the cracks
CAMEO members also have seen a slight change in the type of business owner seeking help, with more clients
- from different geographic areas,
- who had never sought business assistance before,
- from established businesses rather than new ventures, and
- who learned of their organizations from word of mouth.