THE SMALL Business Corp. (SB Corp.) has started accepting loan applications from micro and small enterprises in areas that have shifted to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Economic relief applications for businesses affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began on May 18, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Monday.

Under SB Corp’s COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, micro and small enterprises that were operating for at least a year before March 16, with assets up to P15 million, and whose operations “suffered drastic reduction” due to the pandemic are eligible to apply.

SB Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Ma. Luna E. Cacanando said last week that funding is expanding to P1.5 billion from P1 billion previously, due to excess funds from their Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program.

Micro enterprises with asset sizes not exceeding P3 million may borrow between P10,000 and P200,000 while small enterprises worth up to P15 million may borrow up to P500,000.

All provinces are on GCQ, a relaxed form of the lockdown, except for Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City which are on a modified enhanced community quarantine until the end of the month. Cebu and Mandaue cities are still on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Businesses may take out loans to keep their amortizations up to date on vehicle loans and fixed-asset loans, replacing damaged perishable inventory, or acquire working capital to restart the business.

Loan interest rates are up to 0.5% and have a grace period of six months on principal payments.

Ms. Cacanando said 80% of earlier borrowers have said that they cannot continue with their current loan agreements due to the pandemic, which she said SB Corp. will address with a payment moratorium during the ECQ. She said those companies only need to pay interest for six months after the lockdown is lifted.

Applicants may visit the SB Corp. office or Negosyo Center in GCQ areas, where they are required to wear face masks.

SB Corp. is the financing arm of the DTI. — Jenina P. Ibañez