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Small business gets PPP loan after BI report, but thousands still wait

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  • Last month, Business Insider’s reporting helped a small Bay Area family business get approved for a federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 
  • But nearly two months after the program was launched to help struggling small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, tens of thousands are still waiting to get funds.
  • Those who received PPP funding also say there are too many rules on how to spend the money.
  • Shady Elzarka, whose family secured a PPP loan after our reporting, says he worries the money they received through the PPP won’t keep the business afloat in the long term.
  • “I’m appreciative of the loan itself, but I just don’t know if it’s enough for the situation we’re in,” he said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Last month, Business Insider dug into the case of a Bay Area family business’ struggle to get coronavirus relief funding.

Shady Elzarka helped his father apply for coronavirus relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL), but struggled for weeks to get any update on his application.

Elzarka’s father has owned men’s formalwear store Beninni in Hayward, California, for the past 30 years. When the region went into lockdown in mid-March, the family had to close the store and lay off employees.

Within days of Business Insider reaching out to Bank of America for answers regarding Elzarka’s PPP application, the bank approved the business for a loan, telling Elzarka in an email that it was because of a “media escalation.” The Elzarkas still haven’t received EIDL funding. 

While the Elzarkas managed to get some federal assistance after Business Insider intervened, several thousand businesses are still waiting in limbo.

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Last month, Business Insider reported on the Elzarkas’ struggle to get coronavirus relief for their store, pictured above.

Provided


A recent US Census Bureau survey of 90,000 small businesses found that 38.1% had not received PPP assistance,  suggesting that the number of businesses still waiting for a PPP loan is at least in the tens of thousands — if not much, much more.

So far, the Small Business Administration, which is administering the relief, has administered 4.3 million loans totaling $540 billion since mid-April.

One of the biggest criticisms of the program is how seemingly big businesses like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse have qualified and been approved for PPP loans, which are meant for small businesses. Both have since retuned their loans.

“I definitely don’t think it’s fair that there’s probably still mom-and-pop shops in need of PPP loans and they’re not receiving it,” Elzarka told Business Insider on Monday. 

“It sucks that it took a media escalation for me to get a loan,” he added.

The SBA ran out of money after two weeks, due to the number of applications, and Congress has since injected another $310 billion into the program. It appears that more small businesses are now getting approved for PPP loans. 

Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in December 2019. Congress has increased funding for the Payment Protection Program.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images


But the program has run into a new problem lately. Many small business owners who have received PPP funding are publicly saying that the rules attached to the loan make it difficult to put to use keeping their businesses afloat. 

One of the big issues is that 75% of the loan must go towards payroll, but paying employees is just one factor that businesses are struggling with right now.

For the Elzarka family, the looming problem is rent. But the 25% of the loan that they can use for this purpose won’t even cover one lease payment.

For this reason, Elzarka isn’t sure how much PPP will help keep Beninni running in the long term.

“It’s all dependent on how much longer lockdown lasts,” he said. “If this lockdown lasts many more months, then this loan will not suffice to pay payroll or any other expenses that the business continues to stack up.” 

Elzarka says he’s grateful to have received the PPP loan, but is disappointed it’s not been more of a help. 

“I’m appreciative of the loan itself, but I just don’t know if it’s enough for the situation we’re in,” he said.

“It gives us some relief to know that we have this money now that we can use … but there’s still the longterm horizon that once this is all over, we don’t know how deep of a hole we’ll be in.”

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