A Whanganui-born businessman has launched a scheme to help cafés stay afloat during the Covid-19 lockdown.
David Downs created the soscafe.nz site after he listened to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement that cafés would have to close during the emergency.
"The idea started with just local cafés around me in Auckland but it has quickly become a national thing," Downs said.
"You can visit the site and buy a voucher for a future visit, and give them the cash they need now."
Using his IT skills, Downs launched the site which attracted over 120 cafés to the platform and over $7000 in orders within the first three days.
The site attracted the attention of e-commerce company Shopify which has offered free support for the venture.
"The idea is that wherever you are in New Zealand, you can support your local café where you used to buy your daily coffee and muffin from," Downs said
"If you're in a position to help, it may help them survive through this tough time.
"They are such a vital part of our communities adding character and colour to the places we live so we want to know they will still be there when are able to go and visit them."
Already Viv's Kitchen in Sanson and Moomaa Cafe and Design Store in Marton have signed up.
Famous for its delicious cream horns, Viv's Kitchen normally enjoys a large and loyal clientele.
"We usually serve at least 200 people a day," owner Viv Withers said.
"It's quite heartbreaking really and it is about missing the bustle and the familiar faces as much as losing the income.
"When I heard about the website I didn't hesitate to sign up - it's a great idea."
Owner of award-winning Whanganui café Victoria's T42 Victoria Handley said she had heard about SOS Café and thought it was a brilliant idea.
"I saw that some sister cafés in Wellington have signed up.
"It's a brilliant idea but I don't think it would work for our clientele who are mostly not big internet users."
Jolt Café owner Mark Dyhrberg said he was interested to learn about the idea but it is not something he would look at right now.
"It's a great concept though," he said.
Downs said cafés can join the website themselves or customers can nominate their favourite one and they will be contacted and encouraged to join.
Downs is also a well-known author, comedian and cancer survivor who was nominated for a 2020 New Zealander of the Year award.