From Surviving to Thriving: Tracking COVID-19 start-up and scale-up supports from around the world

From Surviving to Thriving: Tracking COVID-19 start-up and scale-up supports from around the world

This ongoing scan explores policies and programs from around the world that aim to support start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs, and SMEs impacted by COVID-19
From Surviving to Thriving: Tracking COVID-19 start-up and scale-up supports from around the world
​Sarah Villeneuve
Alumni, Policy Analyst
Darren Elias
May 27, 2020
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This scan was first published on May 27, 2020 and will be updated on an ongoing basis. Most recent update: June 5, 2020.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada. These individuals and businesses drive innovation, job creation, and economic growth that benefit many Canadians. In the face of the current public health crisis, it’s critical that the government implements supports that not only ensure the survival and growth of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also facilitate long-term resilience and encourage future business creation after the crisis.

To date, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have developed a number of supports to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs, and SMEs. These include wage subsidies, commercial rent assistance, and small business loans.

A few resources have emerged to help businesses navigate the rapidly changing policy environment, such as Deloitte’s federal and provincial relief measures for business and Shopify’s list of small business government relief programs by country. However, Canadian policymakers can also learn from how other governments are responding to immediate challenges and safeguarding long-term economic potential. This scan identifies and categorizes COVID-19 policies and programs from around the world. 

This page will be continuously updated as more policies are implemented. If there is a policy we have missed, please let us know using this form.

We have provided the Canadian dollar (CAD) equivalent for foreign currency in brackets throughout this scan.

Tax Supports 


  • Israel: Small businesses whose turnover rate was significantly affected between March and April 2020 can apply for financial support to cover fixed expenses through the Grant for Participation in Fixed Expenses for Small Businesses; salaried and self-employed peoples (SEPs) with a yearly taxable income of up to ILS 1 million ($397,000), who experienced a drop of 25 percent or more in sales revenue between March and June can apply for support through the Grant for Self-Employed People.
  • United States:
    • Michigan: The Entrepreneur Resilience Fund provides recovery grants between USD $1,000 – $5,000 ($1,400 – $7,000) to small businesses to assist with reopening or pivoting.
  • France: Start-ups awarded innovation support grants from the Programme d’investissements d’avenir (PIA) will receive accelerated payments for unreleased projects that have already been validated.
  • Finland: Entrepreneurs already receiving a start-up grant who cannot work due to COVID-19 are entitled to a further unemployment benefit.
  • Germany: Smaller start-ups ineligable for private funding can receive financing via regional development institutes (which will receive federal money to top up existing programs), as part of Pillar 2 of the government’s €2 billion ($3.05 billion) startup-specific support. Going forward, the government is planning a €10bn ($15bn) future fund to support startups in the coming years.
  • Japan: Small and mid-sized companies whose revenue has decreased by at least half during the pandemic, along with self-employed persons or freelancers, can apply for financial support from the government’s relief plan


  • United States: Through the newly established federal CARES Act, small businesses can apply to receive a loan of up to USD $10,000 ($14,000) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance or USD $25,000 ($35,000) through the SBA Express Bridge Loans.
    • Massachusetts: The Small Business Recovery Loan Fund provides emergency capital of up to USD $75,000 ($105,000) to Massachusetts-based small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
    • Florida: The Small Business Loan Program is available to small businesses to cover expenses such as start-up costs, equipment, and business procurement.
    • Michigan: The Entrepreneur Resilience Fund provides recovery microloans between USD$5,000 – $10,000 ($7,000 – $14,000) loans with a repayment period of up to three years.
    • Connecticut: The Connecticut Bridge Recovery Loan Program provides emergency cash flow support to small businesses up to $75,000 ($105,000), or equivalent to three months of operating expenses.
  • Israel: the Finance Ministry is providing working capital loans for small businesses of a maximum of NIS 500 000 ($200,000) or up to 8 percent of a company’s last annual turnover. Companies have the option to defer payment for 6 months, while banks are directed to provide credit approval within nine working days. 
  • Germany: Loans may be provided via an accelerated approval process to SMEs. Under this scheme, German state-owned bank KfW may grant a loans that are up to three times the average monthly revenue generated by the SME in 2019. 
  • Japan: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will subsidize unsecured, interest-free institutional loans through regional banks and other lending bodies to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19, with a repayment period of up to five years.
  • Singapore: There have been changes made to existing programs such as increasing the maximum Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) loan from SGD $5 million ($4.9 million) to SGD $10 million ($9.8 million), along with expanding the government’s risk-share to 80 percent, and increasing the maximum EFS-SME Working Capital Loan from SGD $600,000 ($590,000) to SGD $1 million ($980,000) with a maximum repayment period of five years.
  • France: Start-ups can access state-guaranteed treasury loans distributed by both private banks and state-owned bank Bpifrance worth up to twice the 2019 wage bill, or if higher, 25 percent of the company’s annual revenue.
  • Chile: Loan payment deadlines for SMEs can be extended for up to six months without penalty.
  • Nigeria: SMEs can access loans of up to N25 million ($90,000) with a maximum tenor of three years and interest rate of 5 percent as part of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s COVID-19 intervention fund.
  • New Zealand: Under the small business cash flow loan scheme, SMEs with 50 or fewer employees are eligible for a one-time loan of up to NZ $10,000 ($8,530) plus NZ $1,800 ($1,500) per employee.
  • Ireland: Small businesses with less than 10 employees and annual turnover below €2 million ($3.05 million) who have experienced a reduction in profit of at least 15% due to COVID-19 are eligible for loans of up to €50,000 ($76,000) from Microfinance Ireland.
  • Sweden: SMEs that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 can borrow up to a total of SEK 75 million ($10.94 million), with a 70% guarantee from the central government.
  • Switzerland: Start-ups can access loans totalling up to CHF 1 million ($1.4 million), jointly guaranteed by federal (65%) and canton (35%) governments.
  • Bolivia: The authorities have announced a 2 month moratorium on loan repayment for small companies.


  • France: Start-ups already in the process of raising a new funding round can access a bridge round financed by the Programme d’investissements d’avenir (PIA) and managed by state-owned bank Bpifrance. The funding will be provided in bonds with possible access to capital, and is intended to be co-financed by private investors for a total amount of at least €160 million ($255 million).
  • United Kingdom: Start-ups that have raised at least £250,000 ($426,000) from investors in the last five years will be eligible for Future Fund loans of £125,000 ($213,000) to £5 million ($8.5 million), with private investors matching government financing.
  • Germany: Larger start-ups can access financing through Pillar 1 of the government’s €2 billion ($3.05 billion) startup-specific support, which splits funding with venture capitalists (generally 50/50 but with a state-stake of up to a maximum 70 percent). Additionally, the more general €750 billion ($1.1 billion) COVID-19 rescue package can also be accessed by start-ups with a company value of at least €50 million.


Staffing Supports

  • United States: The Paycheck Protection Program (an expansion of the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program) provides small businesses with loan forgiveness when financial support is used to retain or hire back employees and finance necessary overhead costs. 
  • Germany: Kurzarbeit—a policy in which struggling companies can temporarily send their workers home or radically reduce their hours, with the state replacing a large part of lost worker income—has been expanded, including a relaxing of qualifying conditions to discourage the firing of staff.
  • Singapore: The government has introduced a Jobs Support Scheme to help companies retain their local workers by offsetting 8 percent of wages up to SGD $3,600 ($3,500) per month for three months; an enhanced Wage Credit Scheme to support wage increases for Singaporean workers who earn below SGD $4,000 ($3,900); a Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) to support eligible self-employed peoples with quarterly cash payouts of SGD $3,000 ($2,900) throughout 2020 ;and a Training Fund (in partnership with the National Trades Union Congress) to support self-employed persons (SEPs) in deepening or acquiring new skills during a decrease in employment in preparation for new opportunities upon reopening.
  • New Zealand: Businesses that have experienced a minimum 30 percent decline in revenue due to COVID-19 are eligible for the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which provides a 12-week payment per named employee. The government is extending the program starting June 10 for an 8-week scheme open to businesses that have experienced a 50 percent revenue decline. Additionally, the Leave Support Scheme is available for employers (including sole traders) who meet the eligibility criteria to pay employees when they need to stay away from work due to public health guidance and cannot work from home. These two schemes are mutually exclusive and cannot be used in tandem by an employer.
  • Bolivia: The ministry of finance has created a program totalling Bs1.5 billion ($300 million) to support 720,000 micro and small enterprises who have 10 or fewer workers. The fund will provide loans at 11.5% interest to companies to enable the paying of bills without layoffs for two months – companies can withdraw Bs8,400 ($1,660) per employee, repayable in 18 months.

Rent Relief 

  • Japan: Proposed rent-relief plan (submitted in early May by the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition) would support small- to medium-sized businesses and self-employed persons (SEPs) (irregardless of sector) who have experienced revenue loss due to COVID-19. It would provide financial aid equal to 2/3 of the rent paid by these businesses for up to six months.
  • Singapore: Up to 2 months rental waiver for commercial and other non-residential tenants in government properties.
  • Sweden: In an effort to facilitate and speed up renegotiation of rents for small enterprises in particularly hard-hit sectors, the central government is covering 50 percent of the rental reduction (of up to 50 per cent of the fixed rent).

Debt Relief

  • United States: The Small Business Administration is providing debt relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic by covering 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for current or new loans, including 7(a), 504, and Microloans, paid before September 27, 2020.
  • New Zealand: Companies (with the exception of sole traders) can be protected from existing debt obligations for a period of up to 6 months through the government’s business debt hibernation initiative.

Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Canada: In April, the Government of Canada announced that certain foreign investments will be placed under enhanced scrutiny in an attempt to identify and curb opportunistic investment behaviour as businesses face declines in valuation.
  • United States: Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have proposed the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act, a moratorium on mergers and acquisitions during the COVID-19 crisis.

For media enquiries, please contact Nina Rafeek Dow, Marketing + Communications Specialist at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.