Simplified Lending ‘Business grateful for quick accelerator loans, some brought to tears’
Pantry says program saving businesses every day
It is extraordinary to see traditionally successful businesspeople cry because they secured a loan to help pay staff. But these are extraordinary times and for one lender participating in the government’s public-private sector loan program, tears of joy are becoming an almost daily response from employers now able to keep employees and their families financially secure and cover other expenses.
Robert Pantry, founder and CEO of Simplified Lending, said notes filled with words of tearful responses to learning a loan had been approved began pouring in almost as soon as the loan process began.
“The Business Continuity Loan Program is a model of efficiency. It is literally saving businesses every single day. If ever there was a concern about the value of and need for this program, the e-mails and messages we are receiving put any doubt to rest,” said Pantry whose company is one of several participating in the lending facility administered through the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC). Low interest loans, repayable over a 5-year period with no payments due for the first four months, are designed to tide micro, small and mid-size businesses through the economic tsunami resulting from freezing commerce to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Usually, when we secure or grant a loan, we get signatures and a firm handshake,” said Pantry. “But these are such emotional times that today we are getting the most personal notes of gratitude and relief with many mentioning the word approved brought them to tears.”
We saw the responses. “I am crying,’ wrote one client. “Thank youuuuuuu is not enough. I could not sleep last night, I was so anxious about money. Wow.”
Pantry said Simplified Lending’s staff of 23 is “working around the clock” to process applications in the program that he believes demonstrates that great efficiency can be achieved when the public and private sectors unite behind a goal.
“The proof is in the speed with which decisions are made, applicants are informed and the responses we are getting,” he said. He shows another one: “I would like to take this time to thank Simplified Lending LTD at this time for approving our loan. I can now pay my wonderful staff and pay our office bills. I would also like to thank the hardworking staff at SBDC.”
And another” “Amazing!!!!! Oh man, Going to sleep like a baby. Thank you very much. All my staff got paid. They are on their way to the food store. Life changing for 26 people.”
That was another client, Pantry said, who was “brought to tears” when she was notified of her approval, at least the fourth in a week.
“We are working through hundreds of applications, securing the required documentation so we can approve and disburse funds,” said Pantry. “We are working around the clock and accepting applications and interviewing clients over the phone and using technology to be able to accept, vet, approve and disburse loans even during the complete lockdown. All of our staff are working from home including our back office administration team in an effort to ensure the process remains seamless as possible for the client.”
Government established a $20 million business continuity loan fund to assist businesses with fewer than 50 employees, a record of current licensing, and evidence of sustainability once the crisis has passed. Funds are allocated according to number of staff and revenue with the maximum loan amount $300,000. The program was also recently amended to allow 50% of staff salaries to be given in the form of a grant up to a maximum of $20,000.
According to Pantry, “We are still processing mortgage applications and other loan facilities but the business continuity program has dominated our time because it is so important to keep some level of commerce afloat. Two of our early successful clients rely almost 100% on the tourism industry, a woman-run taxi service and a well-established souvenir company. With borders closed, hotels shut and the cruise port empty, they and all their employees were left with nothing but a good reputation to fall back on and reputations do not pay staff or buy bread at the store. We were pleased with the assistance of the very efficient Small Business Development Centre and responsiveness by the Government to be able to assist them. Now we are confident that they will be back on the move as soon as the economy starts flowing again.”