Will customers vouch for favourite businesses during crisis?

New website aims to help bars, cafes and restaurants survive lean and difficult times

The aim of the initiative is to ensure small businesses not set up to sell vouchers can stay afloat during the Covid-19 crisis. File photograph: The Irish Times

The aim of the initiative is to ensure small businesses not set up to sell vouchers can stay afloat during the Covid-19 crisis. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

It has been hard watching much-loved bars, cafes and restaurants closing during the Covid-19 crisis.

Thousands of businesses have closed their doors during the shutdown with concerns that some may not be able to stay afloat long enough for the lifting of restrictions.

One idea that has gained traction on social media is to support independent businesses by buying vouchers from them that can be redeemed once things return to normal.

Irish tech start-up Recroot is helping to promote this idea with a new not-for-profit website called “Vouch for”. The initiative allows customers to buy vouchers to ensure much-needed cashflow comes into their favourite haunts.

Any money received via the website goes to individual businesses, with a transaction fee of between 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent of the voucher value that usually goes to payments company Stripe, being waivered.

“There is a huge generosity of spirit and sense of community right now in Ireland and we want to do our part to help our community cafes, bars and restaurants through this crisis. We are calling for businesses to sign up, and for customers to support them during these times,” said Nev Flynn, co-founder of the project.

The platform founders caution that there is no certainty businesses for which vouchers are bought will definitely reopen, but say the solution may help many of them to survive.

It just remains to be seen if there are enough consumers willing to part with their money at this time of extreme crisis, or if they are prepared to take the risk that they won’t be able to use the voucher if the business doesn’t reopen.