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Business Owners Waited Years for Covid Loans—and Now It’s Too Late

As the Small Business Administration moves to shut down aid, many U.S. entrepreneurs say they haven’t heard back on applications, funds or appeals.

As the first coronavirus lockdown hit in 2020, Jaja Chen and her husband Devin Li decided to apply for help from the Small Business Administration. More than two years later, an advance grant they were told to expect still hasn’t arrived. 

As the first coronavirus lockdown hit in 2020, Jaja Chen and her husband Devin Li decided to apply for help from the Small Business Administration. More than two years later, an advance grant they were told to expect still hasn’t arrived. 

Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

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Jaja Chen and her husband Devin Li were elated when they signed a lease for their new bubble tea shop, Cha Community. Both Asian-American immigrants (her from Taiwan, him from China), they said it was a struggle to find authentic Asian food in their new home of Waco, Texas. So they eventually decided to host a pop-up at a farmer’s market. Later, they moved on to a food truck. Finally, they opened an actual brick-and-mortar storefront where they could serve customers tea and dumplings.

That was December 2019.