San Francisco to launch $10 million small business emergency relief fund

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 01: A deserted Grant Street in Chinatown on April 01, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Officials in seven San Francisco Bay Area counties have extend the shelter in place order until May 1 due to coronavirus concer

The city of San Francisco on Thursday announced plans to create a $10 million small business relief fund to suppport small businesses impacted by coronavirus and the corresponding shelter-in-place orders, which have had a crippling effect on non-essential workers. 

Mayor London N. Breed, and supervisors Sandra Fewer and Hillary Ronen, along with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development said they are committed to launching a Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to support small businesses facing sudden revenue loss from COVID-19.

The fund would earmark $9 million for emergency loans and an addtional $1 million to expand the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund. The second fund  has received more than 2,000 applications since launching on March 11, the city said.

The emergency loan fund will provide small businesses up to $50,000 in zero interest loans. These loans will have a flexible repayment schedule and the terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay, the city said. Applications will be made available by April 6. An online loan application portal is available to business owners at

"The shelter-in-place order -- while absolutely essential for public health -- has businesses scrambling to figure out how to stay afloat," Ronen said. "San Francisco small businesses employ hundreds of thousands of workers. They are the lifeblood of our economy and the soul of our neighborhoods. We can’t let them go under." 

San Francisco's news came as California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday also addressed small businesses. He said that small businesses would get an interest free "bridge loan" of sales/use tax up to $50,000 for businesses with less than $5 million in taxable sales.

He also said that California has launched the website, which matches unemployed people with jobs. 

Other efforts are underway to help small businesses, too. 

Oakland on Wednesday said it will soon offer $300,000 in loans, with grants of $5,000 given to low-income small businesses owners and the grants can be used to pay for rent and utilities, workers, outstanding debt and other immediate costs for operations.

Berkeleyside also reported that the the city will be giving out a total of $3 million to affected business and the companion Berkeley Relief Fund, comprised of donations from people and businesses, will also hopefully give out $3 million and has so far raised $681,000.

San Francisco's mayor noted that the shelter-in-place orders, which will last until at least May 3, are important in saving lives.

But not being able to work is also crippling to people and the economy. 

“The steps we have taken to slow the spread of coronavirus will save lives," Breed said. "But this is a scary time for small businesses and workers because the impact that this pandemic is having is severe to not just public health, but also our local economy and people’s livelihoods."

She said she knows that the money is a start and that "there is much more to be done over the coming weeks and months to help our businesses and our workers get back on their feet.”

Last month, San Francisco had set up a Resiliency Fund to provide immediate relief to small businesses with an initial investment of $1 million to provide over 100 businesses with grants up to $10,000.

The fund announced on Thursday will add an additional investment totalling $2 million to more than 200 small business across San Francisco neighborhoods that need immediate relief.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: An online loan application portal is available to business owners at The new Paycheck Protection Program for businesses with 500 employees or less, includes loans made by existing SBA lenders up to $10 million to cover fixed costs with conditions for eventual forgiveness. All eligible businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to apply. OEWD, together with community based organizations, is currently organizing a network of providers that provide technical assistance to support small business seeking to benefit from these resources. For more information, visit:

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez