LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Wednesday marked the first day of a two week period during which the Small Business Administration (SBA) will only accept applications for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
In a speech announcing the change this week, President Joe Biden said the smallest businesses "got muscled out of the way" by larger businesses seeking aid in the early days of the pandemic.
Mamadou Savane, known in Lexington as "Sav," hopes he can benefit from these changes.
"That would be like winning the lottery," Savane said.
Savane is the owner of Sav's Restaurant and Gourmet Ice Cream and was able to receive forgivable PPP loans last spring after the first iteration of coronavirus relief was passed by Congress.
"That did help me a lot for that period of time," Savane recalled. "I used that money to be able to pay my employees and myself."
Still, the impact of the pandemic forced Savane to lay off employees. Last February, he had 15 employees. Today, he has four employees.
"Most of those people were single moms and stuff," he said. "This was their livelihood, but you know, I couldn't just have people when I don't have money to pay them."
The new rules prioritizing the smallest businesses for loans comes at an opportune time for Savane, who is preparing to open outdoor dining next month.
"I'm about ready to hire more people," he said. "So any money I can get from that, that would be helping a lot for me to be able to pay my employees."
The Biden administration's effort aims to target minority-owned businesses that may have been overlooked during the implementation of the program during the Trump administration.
The Associated Press analyzed data released by the Paycheck Protection Program last December and found that "many minority owners desperate for a relief loan didn't receive one until the PPP's last few weeks while many more white business owners were able to get loans earlier in the program."
Savane, who is from West Africa, is excited by the prospect of receiving more federal assistance, but he said he is grateful irrespective of what happens.
"You have to be thankful," he said, pointing at his restaurant. "At least your door is open."