Londoners have shown how much they value small and independent businesses across the capital by raising more than £1.5 million through an innovative scheme designed to support them during the pandemic, launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Sadiq launched Pay It Forward London in April – at the height of the first national lockdown – to allow people to buy goods and services in advance, which would then be delivered when businesses return to normal or near-normal operation.
Bakeries, music venues, pottery studios, historical walking tours and cafes are among the more than 420 small businesses which have benefitted from more than 20,000 contributions made through the Pay It Forward London scheme, which is delivered in partnership with specialist crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder.
Building on the success of the scheme, Sadiq launched his £1 million Back To Business Fund in July, which matches money raised through Pay it Forward London to help small businesses adapt during the pandemic. This is helping businesses invest in developing their online presence and training their staff in digital marketing, for example, or physical measures such as Perspex screens and contactless payment systems to facilitate socially-distanced trading.
Khan said, “I want to thank Londoners for the incredible, lifechanging support they have shown for their much-loved small and independent businesses – reaching this latest milestone really is something. From cafes, restaurants, music venues and bars, to boxing gyms, swimming clubs, and pottery studios, it’s been great to see local businesses benefiting from this scheme and the generosity of Londoners.
“Hospitality, leisure and culture in particular have really struggled this year and many livelihoods depend on the trade they normally do over the Christmas period. That’s why I’ve called on the Government to provide compensation for lost trade over the festive period.
“It’s vital Londoners follow the rules and take every precaution to stay safe over Christmas. By working together we can reduce the spread of the virus – and help our city and its economy come through these difficult times.”
The historic Stanfords travel book shop in Covent Garden has exceeded its initial fundraising target through Pay It Forward London. So far it has received more than £140,000 – as well as £5,000 in match-funding through the Mayor’s Back To Business Fund – to cover the cost of making the store Covid-secure, paying its staff and improving its website to help customers shop online.
Chair and CEO of Stanfords, Vivien Godfrey said, “We knew Pay It Forward London might be our only chance to save Stanfords from closing our doors. The funds we have raised from caring and generous Londoners have supported Stanfords and the jobs of many staff.
“In addition to the financial support, the publicity created by our crowdfunding campaign has boosted visits to our Covent Garden shop and our website. The entire Stanfords team are extremely grateful.”