Houston Filipino small business owners struggle during pandemic

HOUSTON, TX — About 7.5 million small businesses will close shop permanently if the COVID-19 pandemic persists, according to a new survey by Main Street America.

In Houston, the crisis has clearly taken a toll on some Filipino business owners.

Gemma Gullaksen owns a day spa.

“The spa is closed until further notice. I hope that will be soon, but bills are still coming in and I am really hurting.”

Joel Bamba, who owns a cargo company, is also at his wit’s end.

“Actually, it is impacting all four sides of our business. U.S. and Philippine ports closing, delays of deliveries, dramatic drop of volumes of clients and of course our store closure.”

Members of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Texas have reached out to help.

“We have started a Facebook group called Filipino restaurants, groceries and small businesses, to provide a platform to highlight Filipino owned businesses, so the larger Houston community can support them through this different times.”

To stay afloat, other business owners like Jenny Normand have had to improvise.

Normand, who owns a yoga studio, has begun streaming her classes online.

“The biggest thing I have learned though this is that we have to be nimble, we have to adapt and create different ways that we can serve our clients in whatever platform that might be.”

To help small businesses survive during the pandemic, the Small Business Administration or SBA has approved over a million loans nationwide valued at nearly $248 billion.

About $22 billion in loans have been approved for tens of thousands of small businesses in Texas.

These Filipino business owners in Houston said they’re still waiting to hear back from the SBA, and have yet to get the assistance they need.

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