Written for Daily Hive by Fatima Zaidi, Co-founder and CEO of Quill.
During these unprecedented times, you’re not alone if everything you see and hear in the news, on social media, and during anxious conversations fill you with despair. From people losing their jobs or their savings, small businesses on the verge of shutting down, and, even worse, individuals falling seriously ill or being isolated from their loved ones, it’s no secret that the entire global community is struggling right now.
Thankfully, a glimmer of hope dawns when we see people selflessly rising to the occasion to support each other through this crisis. While we may be physically alone as we maintain physical distancing protocols, it’s important to remember that — now more than ever — we are not alone.
Whether it’s buying and delivering groceries to your elderly neighbours, reaching out on Facebook to strangers who need emotional support, working on the front lines at hospitals as doctors and nurses, or Skyping that family member you haven’t heard from in a while — the silver lining is that we are all in this together.
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It’s even more heartwarming to see companies forgoing their profitability and bottom line by taking on their share of social responsibility during this time. Here are 11 companies in Canada that are supporting consumers as best they can right now.
True to its Canadian roots, Shopify Capital has taken on a number of initiatives to help its customers and the community during this difficult time. The company has set aside $200 million in funding to help entrepreneurs and small businesses most likely to be affected by the current economic situation. In addition, they’re offering a 90-day free trial for all new customers, with customers currently in the middle of a 14-day trial able to extend it for a similar length of time.
This Toronto-based market data company has compiled and released an updated list of all active equity funders, lenders, and government funders in Canada, with the objective of making it easier for tech companies and small startups to quickly access sorely needed funding. Hockeystick has also recently incorporated a search and match tool on its website to link entrepreneurs with suitable funders.
The Upside Foundation
As a charity dedicated to promoting corporate social responsibility, it’s no surprise that the Upside Foundation is actively leading the way during this pandemic. The organization has launched a volunteer-based ‘Home Front’ network to support front-line healthcare workers and civilians by providing them with food, protective equipment, and other delivery services. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to their efforts in a way that best works for them, whether it’s donating time, money, or supplies.
In order to mitigate the overwhelming burden on hospitals and health resources in their battle to contain COVID-19, this virtual healthcare solutions provider has launched a free online screening and consultation tool allowing residents of Ontario virtual access to a live physician. Moreover, the company has offered this software to all Ontario and British Columbia physicians free of charge during the outbreak and has partnered with pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart to provide virtual care services for patients wanting to speak with doctors and other healthcare providers.
Toronto-based human resources company League is providing complimentary access to its platform and all coronavirus-related resources for companies in need. This includes real-time employee communications and content, a virtual health concierge, health programming, and other resources designed to help employees with employment and insurance queries during this period.
CEO Michael Serbinis commented: “We are rapidly building new population health tools, as distributed workforces are the new normal and employee health has become mission critical.” In addition, Serbinis has been working privately with other entrepreneurs and companies to help produce and distribute more ventilators to Canadian hospitals.
As one of North America’s leading moving and storage companies, U-Haul has offered 30 days of rent-free access to storage units for college students impacted by school closures and unforeseen schedule changes. We understand far too well the pain points of being a poor student with mountains of debt and being unable to afford unplanned costs due to this unusual situation, so this gesture will undoubtedly be welcomed by college students across the country.
Across the GTA and beyond, this Middle Eastern restaurant chain is offering up to 50% off all take-out orders made by healthcare professionals and other frontline workers. As the chain posted on its Facebook page: “It’s our small way of saying thank you.”
These are the types of local restaurants we should be supporting.
This tech startup aims to help Canadians create legal wills and power of attorney documents online. However, many people are struggling right now because these documents must be printed and signed at home. Willful has offered to print and ship documents for free to all customers who have lost access to a printer due to mandatory office or business closures. As its Chief Marketing Officer, Sunta Sem, explains: “While we may only be able to offer this for a limited time, our hope is that it eases the anxiety for those who wish to get their affairs in order during these uncertain times.”
Pawzy and Smart Vet
Although many of us have other things on our mind right now, let’s not forget about the wellbeing of our animals. The prospect of closures of “non-essential” businesses like vet clinics have pet owners in a frenzy of rage and fear. Thankfully, companies like Pawzy and Smart Vet are offering telehealth and virtual veterinary services during this difficult time.
But, as grateful as we are, do pets not deserve the same medical attention as humans? If you agree, consider taking a moment to sign this change.org petition created by pet expert Emma Harris urging vet clinics in Ontario to remain exempt from mandatory closures during this outbreak.