Local entrepreneurs are setting up volunteer and support networks as the 30-day lockdown kicks in.

"Voluntarily plans to unite the country with kindness through technology in the face of Covid-19," co-founder Vaughan Fergusson says.

The new service is a Kiwi-built web platform that connects people who need help with those that can provide it - as the name suggests - voluntarily.

Voluntarily cofounders Vaughan Fergusson and Zoe Timbrell. Photo / Supplied
Voluntarily cofounders Vaughan Fergusson and Zoe Timbrell. Photo / Supplied

Launching this week, Voluntarily is a concept imagined by Vend founder Fergusson and Zoe Timbrell, co-founder of the Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust, a charity best-known over the past six years for its work enabling children throughout New Zealand to have access to and develop a passion for technology.

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The site was put together in quick-time by 100 members of the IT community who answered Fergusson and Trimbrell's call for help. A number of corporate backers also came on board including Datacom, Westpac, Xero and Spark (the latter of which has also just re-animated its Jump programme that provides broadband to low-income families). Ateed and the Ministry of Education are also providing support.

It can now match small or medium businesses in need with experts who offer free advice on topics like remote working, payroll and health and safety.

Voluntarily is also offering support for teachers in the process of setting up online learning.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Andy Hamilton with Jada MacFie are among the team that co-founded the
Andy Hamilton with Jada MacFie are among the team that co-founded the "emergency business advice" forum Manaaki. Photo / Supplied.

Meanwhile, Andy Hamilton, who recently departed his longtime role as head of The Icehouse Group, has set up Manaaki - an "emergency business forum for Kiwi SMEs to get help from advisers and experts".

"Manaaki means to support, take care of, give hospitality to, protect, look out for. Doing it with an epic team of humans Pat and Jade MacFie, Monty Betham, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ardie Savea and Dillon Boucher among others," Hamilton says.

The forum allows businesses to ask questions and receive advice from national and international experts, including Craig Hudson (Xero), Stefan Lepionka (Charlie's) and Annah Stretton (Stretton Group).

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In all, more than 80 prominent NZ business people from a wide range of industries including retail, finance and insurance, and branding and marketing, have stood up to offer their expertise.

Adviser Peter Cullinane, chairman of NZME and founder of Lewis Road Creamery, recognises the importance of small businesses, "[they are] the backbone of this country and, collectively, will lead the way through this crisis".

Manaaki was created by New Zealand innovation company Indigo, co-founded by Monty Betham and Pat MacFie, with partners Dillon Boucher MNZM, Ardie Savea, Hamilton and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

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