COVID-19: #PreBuyLocal can help small businesses in the time of lockdown

With the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s small businesses in the informal sector that are suffering the most, but by extending credit, we can help out. Here is why the hashtag is trending on Instagram.

March 30, 2020 11:34 am | Updated 12:26 pm IST - New Delhi

Pay online so small businesses get the benefit of immediate cash

Pay online so small businesses get the benefit of immediate cash

“So in the blink of an eye, sh*t got real,” read the No Nasties newsletter this week. It goes on to tell the reader of how the organic- and Fairtrade-certified clothing brand founded in 2011 is taking a hit, with B2B clients in the travel industry halting orders, their Goa store shut, and online sales dwindling. But, it tells us that though they’re a small business with just six people, “We can continue to pay salaries and meet expenses for a few month.” Unfortunately, it’s “the vegetable guy at the corner, the friendly waiter at my favourite restaurant, our Ayurvedic massage guy and his 2 little kids” who are the worst off.

The solution? #PreBuyLocal, an initiative that founder Apurva Kothari heard of first from Toronto-based FreshBooks, a cloud invoicing and accounting solution for small businesses. The concept involves an extension of credit: paying people before they deliver the goods or services – like paying your local vegetable vendor or personal trainer in the gym a few thousand rupees for future purchases.

Organic, Fairtrade brand No Nasties launches its #prebuylocal campaign on Instagram

Organic, Fairtrade brand No Nasties launches its #prebuylocal campaign on Instagram

Taking the cue, Apurva felt he had much to be grateful for himself. “I have a home and no matter what, I’ll have food on the table, between family and friends,” he says. So despite the stress and anxiety of almost no business right now, he says he put things in perspective for himself. “There are those that don’t have that kind of savings — they must be so petrified.” He has prepaid his masseur who has two children to support and cannot go back to his home state of Kerala.

Employee benefits

So if you have a favourite local brand that may not be able to pay employees, offer help for future goods or services. Torani, for instance, has put out an appeal to help their almost-two-year-old brand, so they can pay their embroiderers, tailors, finishers, and even their chaiwala . You could also consider booking clothes or accessories to be delivered once business resumes (pay by card so they receive the money rather than doing a COD), or even asking your favourite restaurant if you can preorder a meal to be redeemed later, much like a gift card works. Last Forest that connects communities with customers, has sent out an email to their subscribers, detailing the process of buying a gift card.

Sonica Sarna works with 40 artisan communities to produce Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified textiles for international markets. She supported the No Nasties initiative on Instagram. “My business model involves extending a 50% advance to the artisans anyway, otherwise they won’t be able to deliver, so this is a natural extension,” she says, adding that many don’t have savings.

As sustainable clothing brand Upasana in Auroville, who were also inspired by No Nasties to put out the #PreBuyLocal message, said across a few Instagram posts: it’s also about collective healing, community and connection.

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