Google.org, Lin-Manuel Miranda are raising funds for Puerto Rican businesses

Only about 20 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses have reopened after Hurricane Maria’s destruction.

Ahead of the nine-month anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has teamed up with Lin-Manuel Miranda to support businesses in Puerto Rico.

Beginning at 3 a.m. Friday, Google will match up to $2 million donated through g.co/supportPR. The fundraiser, for which Miranda recorded a promotional video, is scheduled to end at midnight on June 20 — the nine-month anniversary of Maria striking the island.

Justin Steele, Americas’ lead for Google.org, said it was critical to support small- and medium-sized businesses since they collectively employ 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s private sector. To date, only about 20 percent of such enterprises have reopened.

“This is actually the first time we’re ever going to pilot trying to see if we can draw the public’s attention back to the recovery effort,” Steele said, noting that Google.org tends to get involved immediately after disasters, as it did by donating $1.5 million to various areas damaged by Maria. “We felt like small businesses were going to be particularly important in the recovery, given that 10,000 small businesses have still not reopened and one of every three workers in Puerto Rico is employed by a small- or medium-sized business.”

The donations will be evenly split between Mercy Corps and the Hispanic Federation. Mercy Corps assists tourism-oriented small- and medium-sized businesses, and the Hispanic Federation works to revitalize small- and medium-sized businesses in agricultural industries and support the use of sustainable materials.

The Hispanic Federation considers enterprises small- or medium-sized if they are solely-owned and independent of a franchise system, and have annual revenues of no more than $1 million.

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