Just as we were about to reach the end of the COVID-19 21-day lockdown, President Ramaphosa announced an extension until the end of April. Although the announcement wasn’t that much of a surprise, it was still disappointing to find out that we will have to remain confined to our homes for that much longer. But one thing that we all have learnt in our three (and counting) weeks of solitude is that time indeed doesn’t stand still, and that South Africa’s strict measures to flatten the curve has had a positive effect. Another thing that we have learnt is that South Africans are quick to stand together and help each other out when it matters the most.
During lockdown only essential industries have been allowed to remain up and running, such as healthcare services, supermarkets, vets and factories that produce essential goods. This means that the majority of businesses that function offline in the physical realm, such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hairdressers, clothing stores, furniture stores, home improvement stores, garden nurseries, arts and crafts, etc., have been forced to completely shut down. Zero revenue for these businesses has resulted in loss of jobs, pay cuts and a big ominous cloud of uncertainty looming over their heads about whether they will survive.
Platforms to the rescue
Over the past few weeks there have been a number of inspiring initiatives that have arisen to support small businesses who are struggling to stay afloat during lockdown. These initiatives have been a joint effort where people have come together to launch online voucher platforms to help small businesses with their cash flow.
Here are some great platforms that you should check out to support your favourite local businesses:
FundItForward is a new voucher platform launched by PayFast in partnership with Retail Capital as part of their #SupportSmallBusiness initiative. Merchants who have signed up with Retail Capital can register on the platform and sell vouchers for their goods or services that can be redeemed post-lockdown.
For more information, visit the FundItForward website.
Voucher Plan is a platform developed and run by restaurant booking platform Dineplan that allows restaurants across the country to sell vouchers that can be redeemed post-lockdown. Some restaurants are running specials so that consumers can get more value for their money by paying now in advance.
For more information, visit the Voucher Plan website.
Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant
Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant is a new programme designed by Stella Artois that facilitates gift cards for bars and restaurants with a valid liquor licence to be redeemed after lockdown. Stella Artois are doing their bit to help out the restaurants and bars registered on the platform by offering customers voucher bonuses as incentives to bury more vouchers.
For more information, visit the Rally for your Bar and Restaurant website.
These are only three examples of some great initiative that have sprung out of the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. There are also other platforms like SaveYourFave, Say Siyabonga, Save Your Local and even SnapScan with their SnapItForward initiative that are all doing amazing jobs of helping small businesses during this uncertain time.
Although still early days, consumers have been eager to support their favourite restaurants and business by purchasing redeemable vouchers from all of these platforms. If you are a business owner, it could also be worthwhile finding out how to register your business on one of these voucher platforms.
For more ideas on how to pivot your business during lockdown, take a look at the PayFast COVID-19 Merchant Survival Guide which offers tips and advice on what you can do to get online and make money. We also launched a #CRUSHCOVID new merchant sign up special to assist new online businesses get up and running.