Facebook launches $100m initiative to help small businesses in 30 countries

The company will pay a $1,000 bonus to every employee, one of the first big companies to offer workers cash to help them during the coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Illustration/File Photo

Facebook is rolling out a $100 million (Dh367m) grant ­programme to help 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries which are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

To counter fake news around coronavirus, Facebook is working with the Poynter Institute in Florida's International Fact-Checking Network on the programme.

“People across the globe are stepping up, rising to the enormous challenge in front of us. We want to do our part too,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of communities and many of them are heavily affected by the crisis, said Ms Sandberg. “The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees,” she added.

The social media giant is also creating a virtual training platform to support small businesses. It is looking at ways to host virtual training and said more details will be shared in the coming weeks.

“These are unprecedented times, making daily life challenging,” said Ramez Shehadi, managing director for Middle East and North Africa at Facebook.

“While so many essential measures are being put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, this may also create additional challenges for small businesses in our region.”

The company said it was helping IFCN to increase its capacity and  "supporting local news organisations as they deal with unexpected costs of covering coronavirus”. 

IFCN helps to streamline fact-checking standards . The fresh funding will allow it to better co-ordinate with its partners on best practice to fight fake news and misinformation.

Facebook will pay a $1,000 bonus to every employee, one of the first big companies to offer workers cash to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, US digital media company The Information reported.

Other technology companies are also funding initiatives to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Amazon has announced it will invest more than $350m to increase employees’ wages and hire 100,000 more staff to meet the rising demand.

“Many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations.

“We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” he added.

It established a Amazon Relief Fund, with a $25m initial contribution, focused on supporting its independent delivery and service partners, their drivers and seasonal employees under financial distress due to the coronavirus.

The e-commerce giant has also created a $5m Neighbourhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to small businesses in the ­Seattle area that need assistance to get through economic challenges related to the pandemic.

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