Puerto Rico faces one of the biggest economic crises of the World: A crippling debt, an increasing diaspora, and scarce jobs. Here’s how you can help Puerto Rico as it faces economic drawbacks.
It’s normal to be worried about our Island. We are, after all, $70 billion in debt yet our government has only assigned $9,565,000 for this year’s budget. This year, only $1.1 million was destined towards the repayment of the debt. However, next year we will probably have a lot more going towards the repayment of our debt. How can the government afford to help its economy and its small businesses if most of its budget will go towards debt repayment? It can’t. That is why many non-profits have started opening up their doors to Puerto Ricans knowing that our government will not be able to help everyone. Non-profits offer a helping hand to an Island with a crushing economy. So here are a few things you can do to help Puerto Rico during this trying time:
Bring Your Business!
Statistically, more businesses are closing rather than opening in Puerto Rico. It is getting increasingly hard to open up a business on the Island. However, opening up businesses in Puerto Rico has the advantage of tax incentives. So if you have a company on the mainland, bringing your production to Puerto Rico can save you money while contributing to our economy and helping create jobs. In fact, if you are under 35, you can get government incentives, grants for studying, and even special financing for your business. Professionals between the ages of 16 to 26 get a tax exemption for the first $40,000 of their income thanks to Law 135 of 2004, where it states that businesses owned by professionals from 16 to 35 can get an exemptions for municipal patents and property taxes. The Municipality of San Juan offers up to $5,000 grant to help you buy your new business materials and even offers payroll for your employees.
Puerto Rico is in dire need of locally-owned businesses. Many organizations are offering help towards people wanting to create startups. Parallel 18, for example, picks a handful of business proposals and helps them forward by providing funding ($40,000) and mentorship. Applications are due soon, so check it out if you want help with your business! Other non-profits that offer help for startups are ConPRmetidos, the brain behind Puerto Rico Global. They offers help finding the right connections to advance your startup. Antrocket offers a crowdfunding platform for your idea. Through Antrocket, you can help crowdfund other startups that you would like to succeed.
A very useful way of helping out local Puerto Rican businesses is by investing in them. Know someone who is opening up a store on the Island? Is your friend is trying to open a small business? Help out! Even $100 can go a long way to help small business. Plus, your investment can even turn a profit. That’s a savvy way to help others!
Donate to Charities in Puerto Rico
Our budget will barely allow financing towards education and non-profit organizations will probably barely receive funding. With that in mind, donating to local charities can go a long way! Even if you cannot contribute monetarily, you can donate your time. Here are a list of non-profit organizations that are working for the betterment of the Island and its residents:
ConPRmetidos is a non-profit organization that helps Puerto Ricans with their startups by providing feedback and connections to business partners that will be key to their success. They also created the Puerto Rico Global initiative with the goal of connecting Puerto Ricans all over the world, creating a Puerto Rican business network that can provide support for other Boricuas in global business markets. You can donate to ConPRmetidos here.
- Asociación Puertorriqueña Pro Bienestar de la Familia
Pro Familia is the Planned Parenthood of Puerto Rico. It provides women with birth control, STD screenings, and helps women take control of their future. Most of the services are given freely towards women of little means. Regardless of whether you agree with these forms of birth control, defunding Pro Familia could be devastating for young Puerto Rican women and could mean future professionals could have their careers cut short because of lack of access to birth control. Girls of all ages rely on them to take control of their reproductive rights. Ensure the future of Puerto Rican businesswomen by donating!
- Foundation for Puerto Rico
- Instituto Nueva Escuela
- Centro Sor Isolina Ferré
- Proyecto En la del Caño Martin Peña
- Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo
- Boys & Girls Club
Share Your Knowledge
If you live on the mainland, you can reconnect with PR by providing insider knowledge for other Puerto Ricans in need of business help. When ConPRmetidos created Puerto Rico Global, they believed an entire business network of Boricuas was key to helping us conquer any market. You can become part of this network by joining their initiative. Here, you can give advice to other Puerto Ricans, ask for help, hire Puerto Rican professionals and help others break into their field by networking with them. You can help our Island by pledging to seek out Puerto Ricans before any other professionals. Need a graphic designer? Need a marketing expert? Puerto Rican professionals can do the job! That way, you can contribute to our economy and help others by giving them work experience and connections. Learn more here. Want to connect with PR professionals? Click here to set up your profile on Profinda and start collaborating!
Voice Your Opinions
Governments sometimes inadvertently create laws that affect commerce. Such is the case with the infamous Cabotage laws of 1920. It requires all merchandise coming to PR do so through US flagships that are owned and are employing US Citizens. This means that everything that enters Puerto Rico is more expensive because it arrives first at US ports and has to change ships to comply with this law instead of just arriving directly on the Island. In 2015, US Senator John McCain filed an amendment to the bill that would annul the Act but he was opposed. You can make your voice be heard regarding cabotage laws as it inevitably hurts Puerto Rico. Write a letter to your local representatives and urge them to repeal it.
But don’t stop there. Let your voice be heard! Make your pen into your best weapon by writing opinion pieces to newspapers and online blogs. Let’s make Puerto Rico’s crisis a national concern! Remember that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Share Puerto Rico
The best way to help Puerto Rico during this trying time is to promote our products. Make it a habit to buy local. Follow PR blogs, like Siete8siete, and promote our talent. Make it a habit to hire Puerto Ricans, if possible. Contribute to tourism by encouraging others to visit our beautiful beaches.Little by little, we can make Puerto Rico into a business haven!
Although our local government will be busy paying off the debt in the coming years, you can make a difference by contributing to our economy, our businesses, and our education. Together, we can turn our Island around and transform PR into the fastest growing economy in the World.
We’re counting on you, Boricua!
Viviana Del Manzano
Blog Writer & Contributor