[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kevin Shane EVP Capital Markets at Sharestates, a real estate crowdfunding platform for private investors and borrowers seeking access to more capital].
Aside from thinking about all the things I can’t wait to do with my family and friends post-quarantine, I’m also thinking about ways to help right now. I’ve done what many have done and made donations, bought gift cards to favorite restaurants & shops, and ordered tons of takeout from my local food establishments + coffee shops. As much as I know the small business owners and employees are grateful for these gestures, I can’t help but think if it’s enough. I’m only one person, and my voice of suggestion to do similar can only go so far.
As we know, small businesses are hurting more than most. Our local coffee shops, restaurants, bars and boutiques are the foundation of our communities. They are a key reason why our neighborhoods are so attractive, safe and desirable to live in. They are also a reason why our properties values are as high as they are in many locations around the country. Our local small businesses add an incredible amount of value all-around.
We’re on the verge of losing many of our favorite retailers that provide happiness to our daily lives. Once they’re gone, there’s no guarantee they’ll bounce back, nor is there a guarantee another establishment will fill their spot in the near future. The stimulus may provide security to some of our favorite local spots, but it will not rescue all of them. Not to be pessimistic at all, but we do need to plan for even more challenging times ahead, without giving up hope for the best.
I admire the fact that the government wants the fintech platforms to help distribute the small business loans from the stimulus package, but I believe the same fintech platforms can make much more of an impact beyond providing help with the government stimulus. I would like to see the small business lending fintech platforms partner together to create a national co-organized campaign for a community funded lending program. Let us, the customers of the restaurants, bars and shops, provide the loans to save their favorite local small businesses, at a very, very (I’m talking the 1% range) interest rate. It’s more than a lifebuoy. It would be a way to show that we believe in our favorite small businesses, but also understand the difficulty of their situation.
By having it be a co-organized campaign with multiple online lending platforms, it would allow for a much greater reach. The goal is to provide a solution, not to win the lending game. Similar to the way Governor Andrew Cuomo said we need to set aside politics and work together, we need to do the same with competitive business behavior and work towards the common goal here–to make sure we can bring back a quality of life that many of us have been so accustomed to… a quality of life that provides happiness to so many.
I’ve shared this idea with a few people and they’ve asked, “why 1% interest rates? …why not a GoFundMe campaign?” My answer was that it’s to hold the small businesses accountable, but also to give them the hope and motivation that they can reopen their doors. It allows our local communities to invest in what we know, what we love, what makes us happy and what can truly effect property values of the homes we live in.
I CHALLENGE ALL THE SMALL BUSINESS LENDING PLATFORMS (big and small) TO COME TOGETHER TO CREATE A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO HELP OUR FAVORITE LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES. I also challenge them to launch this campaign in less than a week… because we need it to happen yesterday.
PS: Sending my best to all those affected by COVID-19, to all our retailers and supply chain’ers who are helping bring food and other necessities to us, and to all our first responders who are on the front lines.