On Tuesday July 28, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer hosted the fifth of a six-event series on small business recovery across America, focusing on how female-led small businesses have innovated and used digital tools to pivot during the pandemic, featuring Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen, National Association of Women Business Owners CEO Jen Earle and Sameka Jenkins, owner of Carolima’s Lowcountry Cuisine.

Sen. Rosen discussed her bipartisan work on helping to secure more funds for Nevada business owners, as well as how the hospitality industry in the state has pivoted.

  • How Nevada has innovated hospitality industry: "One thing that [Nevada] knows how to do is create an experience. [Casinos] have been designing this very cool Plexiglas [screen] that might go between slot machines or be used in restaurants...I think that some of those things may be exported to hospitality across the nation."
  • On working with small business owners to help them secure loans: "We're a large state in size, but small in population with about three million. So we're able to know each other, work together, and that's what's going to make this a success...Sole proprietors need to know that they can get these funds."

Jen Earle highlighted the obstacles that women encounter in securing loans and navigating unequal distribution of labor at home.

  • On unique challenges for women business owners: "Access to capital for women is a bigger issue...They've [started businesses] by bootstrapping, by utilizing credit cards, by using personal funding...They don't obviously have relationships with bankers."
  • How small businesses are central to their communities: "They support the nonprofits that are local. They support youth school programs, the soccer programs, things like that that really keep the economy vibrant."

Sameka Jenkins discussed her experience as a small business owner and how Carolima’s Lowcountry Cuisine has utilized social media to stay connected to their community.

  • How her business has leaned on digital tools: "[We've used] social media like Facebook, Instagram. We started doing live videos at the start of the pandemic...we've actually brought people into our home virtually and we've taught them how to prepare certain dishes."
  • How social media can keep members of a community close: "I think everyone's pivoted in their own way...For us, the videos were very helpful. Social media was very helpful...I think at this time, people want to see that transparency. People want you to share. People want to be a part of your lives. And they just want to know that, you know, we're all in this together."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

4. SMBs need more time

Capital and technical assistance are critical, but so is time.

Why it’s important: Thought leaders agreed that knowing or having access to the technology is not enough if these businesses don’t have the time to actually implement those technological strategies.

First things first: The digital safety net for SMBs post-COVID

Jake Ward, President of the Connected Commerce Council (3C), during Google's virtual Small Business Matters Roundatable.

85% of SMBs say COVID-19 made them rethink their approach to digital tools.

Why it’s important: SMBs that are using digital tools, technology services and have access to online marketplaces are more likely to have survived the early days of COVID-19 and become resilient because of it, said Jake Ward, President of the Connected Commerce Council (3C).

3. Minority-led SMBs turn to digital tools because of lack of funding

Small businesses owned by minorities were more likely to make the most out of digital tools during COVID-19, according to the Digitally Driven study.

Why it’s important: These minority-owned businesses that quickly adapted to the new normal and have a higher comfort level with digital tools have become more focused on long-term business goals through the pandemic.