Germany’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on 90 percent of all German companies, and that every fifth business is at risk of bankruptcy. All Germans are feeling the pinch, but the country’s entrepreneurial members of the African diaspora have been especially burdened by the social-distancing measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
Barbershops, a staple of Afro-German businesses, have been required to close given the close contact required to perform their services. African restaurants are similarly hard hit, as they are only allowed to fulfill takeaway orders, which are rarely enough to cover the costs of bills in expensive cities like Berlin. Smaller enterprises in the capital city may qualify for up to US$16,320 in state and federal aid, but the glut of applications means most have not been processed, and some African business owners fear there simply aren’t enough funds to go around.
Why It Matters
Curfews, lockdowns, and quarantine protocols around the world have revealed the relative economy fragility of small- and medium-sized businesses. Diaspora communities tend to engage, on average, in enterprises that have small profit margins, which puts them in a precarious position if a sudden downturn hit. Relief packages have cost governments throughout the West vast amounts to prop up ailing businesses, yet the fear remains that it will not be sufficient to stave off bankruptcies and foreclosures. A consistent worry expressed by small-business owners is how they will pay rent and other bills if lockdown measures were extended, a concern that has led to increasing support for rent suspensions, debt waivers, and temporary deferment of loan payment obligations.