A message from AAFE’s Co-Executive Directors – March 10, 2020
AAFE’s 46th Annual Lunar New Year Banquet is now a little more than a week away. As we finish up preparations for the big night, we have some important updates.
As you know, fears around the coronavirus have hit small businesses in the communities AAFE serves very hard. In this difficult time, we believe it’s important to stand in solidarity with the Chinatown business community, which is experiencing the most difficult period since the devastating 9/11 attacks two decades ago. For this reason, we will go ahead with our banquet, a longtime Chinatown tradition, on March 19th. We are, of course, closely monitoring the latest advisories from the city, including the Department of Health, and will take any and all precautions to ensure the safety of our guests and staff. But at the the same time, we agree with the sentiments expressed by the mayor over the weekend: New Yorkers should exercise basic precautions while going about their daily lives.
We have heard and met directly with so many of our community’s small businesses across the city, and their message is loud and clear: “We are on the brink of collapse – we need help now.” These entrepreneurs provide goods and services to our communities, hire locally and, in doing so, uplift themselves and those they employ out of poverty. Now these establishments stand empty, the labor force cut. The loss of these local ecosystems is catastrophic to our neighborhoods.
This is why we have decided that this year, we at AAFE will donate ALL of our net proceeds from the gala entirely to a new Emergency Small Business Relief Fund to help our small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis. In years past, proceeds from the banquet have provided important support for a wide range of programs and services across AAFE. But in these times of crisis, the rationale for our sacrifice is clear. Our neighborhoods without these small businesses are no neighborhoods at all.
AAFE’s small business affiliate, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, will administer the Emergency Small Business Relief Fund while we continue working with our elected officials and government agencies for additional emergency funding,
The city just unveiled a loan fund for small businesses impacted by coronavirus and the U.S. Congress, thanks to the advocacy of our elected officials – Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Rep. Grace Meng – approved funding for federally-backed small business loans. We are currently in talks with city, state and federal officials about coordinating our efforts.
Working out the details will take some time, but due to the urgency of the situation, we are launching the fund using our own resources right away. In establishing the Emergency Small Business Relief Fund, we are following a model AAFE has successfully employed throughout its history. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and following many other smaller disasters, AAFE Renaissance stepped in immediately with critical help for hundreds of small businesses until government assistance became available.
We know these are uncertain times. While AAFE is moving ahead with this year’s banquet, we understand and respect decisions made by community partners and supporters that may impact staff members’ ability to participate in public events. If you are unable to join us on March 19th, we hope you will consider supporting our Emergency Small Business Relief Fund.
With deep gratitude, we thank our steadfast sponsors who have already pledged towards this relief effort. We challenge more to answer the call of our communities and raise as much as possible to assist our neighborhood small businesses. You can contribute online by filling out the form below.
-Thomas Yu and Jennifer Sun
Co-Executive Directors, Asian Americans for Equality
Give to Our Emergency Small Business Relief Fund