For sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals in the United States, now is the time to complete an application to get Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans up to a maximum of USD41,666. Recent federal legislation has made USD285 billion available to restart PPP. The process to get this loan could not be easier — especially if the applicant did not receive funding during the first PPP rollout in 2020. They can now complete the entire loan application process using their mobile phone by applying through the PPP Fast Lane, developed and provided free of charge by Womply, a technology company offering a local commerce platform for small businesses.
PPP Fast Lane is a web-based application that takes just minutes to complete. The program has five requirements for any user: have a U.S. mobile phone number; a U.S. social security number; a U.S. bank account that is accessible online; access to a PDF version of your 2019 tax filing; and have not previously received a PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). If the applicant can check these boxes, they can proceed to apply for their first draw of funding, their second draw of funding, and apply for loan forgiveness — all at one time through the PPP Fast Lane.
Eligible businesses include nonprofits, veteran’s organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships and independent contractors. All are eligible for the PPP loan, which is offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Currently, the SBA is focused exclusively on low- to middle-income (LMI) companies. Now through March 9, 2021, the SBA will only accept and approve first or second PPP loan applications from applicants with fewer than 20 employees. The entire program is set to expire on March 31, 2021.
The U.S. Congress intended for PPP to reach small businesses, but less than 3% of all previous funding went to businesses with one or zero employees during 2020. “Most people, if they are a sole proprietor or independent contractor, may not recognize that they are eligible for the paycheck protection program. Even though they are non-employers and they pay themselves, they are eligible,” says Cory Capoccia, Womply President and YPO member in San Francisco and Park City.
When a person uses the PPP Fast Lane to submit their loan application, the entire process happens seamlessly on the back end. The program is connected to multiple SBA-approved lenders, including Fountainhead, led by CEO Chris Hurn, another YPO member. From the user experience perspective, the process is completely integrated. The data elements provided in the sign-up page populate the application for the PPP loan. The user electronically signs the loan application, and it is submitted to the SBA.
Once approved, the funding is deposited into the user’s bank account, which is connected at the start of the application process as part of Fast Lane’s fraud prevention and identity verification. The entire process is streamlined to make it as smooth as possible for the user to apply. Throughout the flow the user completes the process to receive a first draw, then starts the process to receive a second draw. Two weeks later, when the user is eligible for a second draw, PPP Fast Lane will submit that application and then deposit the funds again when the second draw is approved. The system also automates the application process for payback forgiveness of both loans, in practice turning these low-interest loans into grants.
Watch how to use PPP Fast Lane.
“Our urgent need is for all YPO members to reach out to their networks to help spread awareness to sole proprietors and independent contractors to let them know the PPP is available to them. It’s better for everyone if these funds can get out to these eligible but underserved non-employer businesses in their ecosystem so that they can receive the capital that they need to survive,” says Capoccia.
Womply’s goal is to reach 1 million people with their PPP Fast Lane program. In a matter of days, they have received more than 300,000 applications, with thousands of new applications starting via PPP Fast Lane every hour.
With the PPP set to expire at the end of March, Capoccia says there needs to be more time to reach and service this population. Womply and other organizations have been lobbying Congress to extend the PPP to the end of the June. Capoccia is asking other YPO members to use their influence with Congress to convey that the PPP is working, but that it needs more time to reach these underserved groups of independent contractors and sole proprietors.
“The demand and need is clearly there. The infrastructure was not until we built Fast Lane. Now, time is the only factor that remains to determine the success of this program. We need more time to get these funds out. It will be a massive failure if the program expires with tens of billions of dollars of unused funds, when there is a huge population of tens of millions of underserved and eligible people that never actually got access to get PPP,” says Capoccia.