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Indian American Small Business Owners Share Their Pandemic Struggles With President Biden

Indian American Small Business Owners Share Their Pandemic Struggles With President Biden

  • As part of his weekly chats with Americans, the president spoke with Neal and Samir Idnani of NaanStop in Atlanta, Georgia.

As the pandemic continues to rage on and disrupt our lives, work, schools and businesses,  President Biden is connecting with Americans virtually to understand their experiences and challenges. One such family the president connected with last week was small business owners Neal and Samir Idnani of NaanStop in Atlanta, Georgia. In a a video released by the White House, the brothers are seen in a virtual chat on Jan. 13 with the president. 

The video begins with their story. The brothers started NaanStop “almost 10 years ago” to bring their mother’s cooking to the world. “But when COVID hit, we had to completely adapt,” the brothers say in the video. “We learned new strategies to handle our business, meeting our community with food at their doors, while balancing our lives at home.”

Biden then asks the Idnani brothers about their business. “As small business owners during the pandemic, every day is an open question,” Samir Idnani said. “Our business has been down 75% almost overnight.” His brother, Neal Idnani added that their staff had also gone down — from 20 to 25 employees to 10-15 people.

When Biden asked the owners for what their “greatest need” is for their restaurants “to be able to survive,” Neal Idnani replies that their greatest need is for everyone to get inoculated so people could go out again. “Because if people aren’t out shopping, the economy grinds to a halt.”

Adding that small businesses hold communities together and provide half the workforce in the country, Biden noted 400,000 have gone out of business. “I put together a rescue plan that provides tens of billions of dollars in grants to small businesses,” he said. “We have to invest more not less. We have to give you a chance to rebuild that’s separate and apart from dealing with the virus.” 

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The video ends with the Idnani brothers accepting Biden’s request to visit NaanStop whenever he’s in town. 

Biden’s Feb. 13 interaction with the Idnani brothers was part of the weekly presidential address he resumed after Donald Trump ended the tradition during his term. 

On the day he took office, Biden announced his $1.9 trillion plan for a new COVID-19 relief package. He, along with Democrat leadership, attempted to gain bipartisan support for the legislation, but ultimately failed to gain Republican support to proceed with the measure. Instead, Democrats will use the budget reconciliation process to pass the relief package with a simple majority vote. The plan aims to fund a comprehensive COVID response plan; deliver relief to working families; and support communities that are struggling; and protect against future cyberattacks. 

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