QBO Innovation Hub, in partnership with YBI and supported by Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, is launching RESQUE: Startups vs. COVID-19 Competition—a country-wide startup competition to help startup founders stay afloat during these uncertain times. The competition follows after QBO has been named YBI’s delivery partner in the Philippines to develop and deliver an urgent package of support to struggling local businesses.
The global economy is suffering from an unprecedented shock as a result of COVID-19. With typically tight margins, micro, small, and medium businesses are vulnerable to economic downturn. The current pandemic is having a particularly serious impact on business owners and entrepreneurs from underserved communities, including young people (aged 18-35 years), women, and refugees and other migrants. In such a volatile landscape, businesses continue to take a hit and many are in need of support to power through the crisis.
Investagrams, a QBO incubatee that provides stock trading tools and education, is among the startups that fully migrated their workforce to their homes and has felt the impact of the global pandemic. Its CEO and founder JC Bisnar said, “This disruption is unlike anything we’ve faced before. Many of our local startups have been shaken to the core, and ultimately need dedicated support to manage this sudden economic slump. As seeds that can scale up rapidly to become contributors to the economy, or can potentially develop the innovative solutions needed to combat this crisis, startups deserve a lifeline.”
“Businesses across the globe are grappling with the adverse effects of COVID-19 and our local startup community is no exception. We continue to believe that startups are key to driving development in our country, and are committed to helping our startups navigate these trying times,” said Katrina Rausa Chan, director of QBO. “We’re eager to launch the RESQUE: Startups vs. COVID-19 Competition, together with our revamped suite of startup activities, and provide the immediate help our Filipino small businesses need, as part of YBI’s rapid response and recovery program funded by Google.org.”
The RESQUE: Startups vs. COVID-19 Competition is expected to provide a holistic support program to Filipino startups. Startups can join either of the two categories: (1) COVID-19 Solutions for startups with innovative solutions, products, and/or services that directly tackle COVID-related challenges and (2) Sustainable Pivots for startups that adapt and secure sustainability through pivot strategies amid the crisis.
The competition’s theme would also address loss of employment, restoration of the economy, and the creation of new opportunities for growth and development. The application period for the three-month program will be from June 15 to June 30, 2020. Interested startups can send their applications by visiting qbo.com.ph/covid-19.
Aside from a cash prize of PHP 100,000, ten winners will receive two months of high-touch mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts. The program includes learning and feedback sessions, business clinics and consultations, and access to resources. Google employees are also on board with sharing their knowledge and expertise.
The global program is led by YBI, an experienced network of enterprise support organizations. It will support over 200,000 small and medium business owners across 32 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific to respond to and recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Anita Tiessen, CEO of YBI, said, “The world is changing dramatically from day to day and I feel deeply for business owners everywhere, especially those running smaller businesses and are from underserved communities, who are often least able to bear the economic shocks of this crisis.
“In the face of these challenges, I have been incredibly inspired by the quick response of our network to support business owners around the world. YBI, with Google.org’s new funding commitment, will help us sustain and extend this support throughout 2020, ensuring more than 200,000 businesses can get the advice they need right now to navigate this crisis.”
Rowan Barnett, head of Google.org, EMEA & APAC, said, “The coronavirus outbreak is taking a devastating toll on lives and communities, and small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges as they struggle to stay afloat. With this grant to Youth Business International, alongside a series of Google initiatives and products, we hope to help some of the most vulnerable small businesses find a way through the crisis.”