Global State of Small Business Report

By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer

Small businesses are the heart of our communities – and they are the unsung heroes of the global economy. From coffee shops, bookstores and restaurants to plumbers, wedding planners and graphic designers, small businesses create jobs and growth in every country, helping to reduce poverty and income inequality. But they are facing the challenge of a lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just a public health emergency, it’s also an economic crisis that is hitting small and medium-sized businesses exceptionally hard.

Today, the scale of the challenge they face across the globe is laid bare. Facebook is publishing the Global State of Small Business Report, in partnership with the OECD  and the World Bank. It is the first in an ongoing series of reports that were planned before the virus struck – when we had anticipated this initial report would have painted a much brighter picture. Instead, what we found from surveying more than 30,000 small business leaders across more than 50 countries is sobering. 

More than a quarter said they closed between January and May this year – but that figure rose to more than 50% in some countries. A third of those currently operating reported that they had reduced their workforces, a worrying sign of what could be a lengthy jobs crisis. And nearly two-thirds of those in operation told us sales are down on the same period last year – in many cases significantly so.

The survey shows that tourism and hospitality have felt the brunt of COVID-related restrictions and reduced consumer spending – with around half of businesses in these sectors reporting that they had closed. The smallest businesses, those owned and operated by one person, have closed at a greater rate than others. 

It also exposes a stark gender disparity. Female-led businesses are more likely (7 percentage points higher) to be closed compared to male-led ones, and are significantly more likely to be concentrated in the sectors most affected by restrictions on business. In fact, the stricter the restrictions are, the more female-led businesses close their doors compared to those run by men. 

Facebook is in the business of small business. More than 160 million businesses use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp every month to reach customers, sell and grow. They are the heartbeat of Facebook’s community and since the early days of the pandemic we have taken steps to help them weather the storm. That’s why we recently launched Facebook Shops to make it easier to sell online and created our Business Resource Hub, where they can get training, advice, and information – including from healthcare experts. 

Entrepreneurs are resilient people, and the report shows that many remain optimistic about the future. Nearly three quarters of those that were closed at the time of the survey expect to reopen as restrictions are lifted. The path to recovery is uncertain and many may need support from governments or other institutions to get back on track. We hope this report will help identify areas where that support can make the biggest difference. These are tough times for businesses all over the world, but Facebook is determined to do all we can to help them make it through. 

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