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The statistics showing COVID-19’s impact on small businesses are staggering. For example, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Index, a majority (59%) of small business owners continue to believe it will take six months to a year for the small business climate to return to normal. Eight in 10 small businesses say they are concerned for their business’s future, and 76% for their business’s finances.
For Synchrony, supporting small businesses is in the company’s DNA. Synchrony has a proud 85-year heritage of equipping small business leaders with the innovative solutions they need to build resiliency and bolster communities — in good times and bad ––through core business solutions and philanthropic support.
Synchrony’s CEO of Payment Solutions Curtis Howse sat down with us to discuss how the company jumped into action amid the pandemic to support financing opportunities for small businesses and fund emergency grants for communities in need. What follows has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q. What has Synchrony done to support small businesses and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. Synchrony is proud to be among the corporations that stepped in to supplement the government’s CARES Act. Through the Synchrony Foundation, the company committed $5 million over four years in support of organizations that help small businesses. Two million dollars was granted to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national community development organization, which is providing emergency grants to help owners of minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in low-income neighborhoods recover from the pandemic and build resiliency. As Bill Taft, LISC’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development, explains in a recent blog post: these emergency funds “can make the difference between riding the tide, and having to shut their doors permanently.”
Synchrony and the Synchrony Foundation also announced an additional commitment of $5 million to COVID-19 relief, including funds to support hunger-relief organizations and local communities. To support families and communities facing hunger, Synchrony donated $1.5 million to non-profits, including Feeding America’s® COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country support affected communities and Meals on Wheels America to ensure older adults continue to receive the vital lifeline they need. Synchrony also committed the remaining $3.5 million to local organizations tackling long-term needs in hard-hit communities.
In addition, Synchrony and Family Promise, a national non-profit, announced the pilot launch of a new $1.2 million shelter diversion initiative aimed to help families combat homelessness, an especially important effort amid the pandemic. Family Promise affiliates across the country received virtual shelter diversion training and $50,000 in funding, most of which will be used to directly help struggling families, including emergency assistance with security and utility deposits, rental arrears, transportation, groceries, and more. At the conclusion of the two-year-long pilot, Family Promise will develop best practices to roll out to affiliates across the country. The first year resulted in 254 families served through Synchrony funding, including 527 children.
Q. How does Synchrony equip small business leaders to build resiliency and drive growth?
A. Synchrony partners with nearly one million small businesses nationwide, including those in the retail, home, and auto industries, as well as healthcare providers, including veterinarians, dentists, and physicians. We support our partners with much more than just credit products. We also offer many innovative tools to help them manage, market, and grow their business.
Whether a small business partner needs to request a credit limit increase or wants to track their financing promotion performance, Synchrony Business Center has tools to help small business leaders track and grow their business. We also offer several programs that help our small business partners gain additional powerful insights via exclusive research, industry expertise, and engaging communications. A few notable examples include Envision, Synchrony’s annual conference for all partners; The Pillars Project, an annual small business award program; and Business Schooled, a ‘biz-taimnent’ content series for entrepreneurs.
Leveraging Synchrony’s industry and external expertise, we also designed a Small Business Content series on a broad range of hands-on topics in a variety of formats, including downloadable PDFs, webinars and podcasts.
Q. What are some innovations that Synchrony has offered to small businesses to adapt to changing consumer demands?
A. While the digital shopping transformation has been underway for several years, the pandemic has accelerated consumer demand to transact without touching cash, cards, or keypads – also known as contactless commerce. Consumers now expect a seamless, safe, and flexible purchasing journey on their terms and their preferred platforms. It’s why Synchrony strives to meet consumers at the moments that matter most; increasingly, that is at the digital point-of-sale. We continue to invest in platforms and technologies that enable contactless purchasing experiences.
Last fall, we expanded our suite of digital tools that help ensure a safe, seamless, and socially distant experience for every stage of the payments process – applying for credit, completing a transaction, and paying a bill or servicing an account. We also announced capabilities that simplify consumer financing at the point of sale, enabling partners to better compete in the digital age and make it faster and easier for them to integrate online credit applications into their business. Further, we now offer additional lending sources, enabling more consumer financing possibilities.
To learn more about how Synchrony is helping customers, partners, and employees amid the pandemic visit synchrony.com/coronavirus.