COVID-19 Resources for Freelancers and Small Businesses
Upwork Staff
April 6, 2020
6 Min Read

COVID-19 Resources for Freelancers and Small Businesses

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If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, the past couple of weeks may have been a bit anxiety-inducing. No matter how your business is being affected during these uncertain times, Upwork is here to help.

Things are changing fast during the COVID-19 outbreak and many businesses are being forced to quickly adapt. We’ve curated a list of business resources and information to help you navigate through this challenging time. We will continue to update this list as we identify new resources and tools to support your business.

Federal Resources:

Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance

The U.S. Small Business Association is providing low-interest disaster loans for small businesses who are impacted as a result of COVID-19. Programs include:

  • The Payment Protection Program: Small businesses, independent contractors and people who are self-employed can qualify for a loan of up to $10 million that will be determined based on the average of eight weeks prior payroll and an additional 25 percent of that amount.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance: Small business owners in the U.S. may apply to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance to receive up to $10,000 for businesses under 500 employees.
  • SBA Debt Relief: This program will help provide support to small businesses by providing loan payment relief. The SBA will pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued before September 27th. The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for six months.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans: This program allows small businesses with existing relationships with an SBA Express Lender to receive up to $25,000 with minimal paperwork. The loans provide economic support to help alleviate the strain of temporary loss of revenue. Small businesses may quality if they have an emergency need for funds while waiting for Economic Injury Disaster Loan approval or disbursement.

For more information about SBA’s loan assistance programs, please visit their website.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Stimulus Repayments

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced this week that economic stimulus payments will be rolling out in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically with no action required for most people. Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child. Visit to learn more.

Unemployment Insurance Program

The Department of Labor recently announced it will be issuing an additional $100 million in Dislocated Worker Grants to states; those funds include self-employed freelancers and workers. You can find your state unemployment office here for future details.

The Freelancer Relief Fund

The Freelancer Relief Fund will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelancer household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs, including food and food supplies, utility payments and cash assistance to cover income loss. Applications will open on April 2nd. Visit the Freelancers Relief Fund homepage to apply.

State and Local Resources:


  • State of California: The California Small Business Loan Guarantee via IBank will provide $50 million in state funding, providing funds for small businesses with less than 750 employees who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • State of Connecticut: Loan of up to $75,000 for qualifying businesses or nonprofit organizations, or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser).
  • State of Florida: Up to $50,000 per eligible small business. Loans of up to $100,000 may be made in special cases. Interest-free for the first year and 12 percent per annum thereafter.
  • State of Iowa: Offers grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, in addition to offering a deferral of sales and use of withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest to eligible businesses with between 2 and 25 employees.
  • State of Maryland: Refundable tax credit to small businesses that provide their employees with paid sick and safe leave. Small businesses may claim a refundable tax credit for up to $500 per employee, or $7,000 per small business.
  • State of Massachusetts: Emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full and part-time employees, including nonprofits.
  • State of Michigan: Grants up to $10,000 for companies with 50 employees or less, and low-interest loans between $50,000 and $200,000 for those with less than 100 employees.
  • State of New Jersey: Announced a suite of programs to support small businesses including low-interest loans and grants to entrepreneurs.
  • State of New York: Up to $75,000 in interest-free loans for businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have experienced at least a 25 percent reduction in revenue.


  • City of Chicago: Five year loan of up to $50,000 for small businesses and nonprofits, with 50 employees or less, that have suffered at least a 25 percent decrease in revenue due to COVID-19.
  • City of Denver: Cash grants of up to $7,500 to businesses in industries particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 including restaurants, retail shops and nail salons.
  • City of Los Angeles: Low-interest loans between $5,000 to $20,000 to help with job retention.
  • City of New York: Zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 for businesses with less than 100 employees. 40 percent of payroll costs will be covered for businesses with less than five employees.
  • City of Sacramento: Zero-interest loans of up to $25,000.
  • City of San Francisco: $10,000 for employee salaries and rent for businesses with less than 5 employees.

Additional Resources:

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