Innovative and generous responses to Covid-19 from businesses around the world

Izzi Morris
July 9, 2020

Shine’s Best-in-Class Summary
Innovative and generous responses to Covid-19 from businesses around the world


This is a live list, regularly updated by the team at Shine. Feel free to bookmark it and share with your colleagues and friends.

Not only does it serve as inspiration for how we can use the privileged assets of our own businesses to help, but it's a great reminder of the humanity and innovative thinking that emerges in moments like these. Stay safe everyone.


Helping fight Covid-19

  • LVMH is using its perfume and cosmetics factories to make hand sanitizer. Good George Brewing Company has also announced this in NZ.
  • Ford joins forces with 3M and GE Healthcare to make respirators, other urgently needed medical equipment. MIT researchers have also invented an open-source, low-cost ventilator that could be built for just $100, compared to the $30,000 commercial ventilator.
  • Sporting goods giant Decathlon, using 3D-printed components, is converting its snorkeling masks used by scuba divers into makeshift ventilators now used in hospitals in northern Italy.
  • Auckland 3D printing business Mindkit has created a database of 3D printer owners around New Zealand galvanising the printing of the masks for understocked medical clinics.
  • Maker’s Asylum, a makerspace in Mumbai, has designed an inexpensive face shield that can be quickly assembled anywhere in India.
  • Auckland Transport has live tracking of the number of people on each bus, allowing people to evaluated if social distancing is possible.
  • A new product called SmartDome can be installed at checkouts, counters, entrances to public spaces. It watches customers and sends out messages if they are disobeying the rules of social-distancing, such as “for your safety, please maintain at least six feet of social distance”.
  • Tagolas, a specialist in antennae for the internet of things, has launched its Crowd Insights platform which uses Wi-Fi to measure, monitor, predict, alert and notify indoor and outdoor venues about social distance limit breaches in real-time.
  • A Snapchat-owned location app Zenly just added a leaderboard comparing who stays home the most.



Helping the true heroes

  • Irish electric bike provider Moby Move and car provide GoCars have offered free vehicle rental to frontline healthcare workers.
  • Airbnb is partnering with hosts to connect 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients — and safely distanced from their own families.
  • Sweetgreen is delivering free salads and bowls to hospitals for health care workers.
  • University of Minnesota medical students have set up an organisation to provide childcare, pet sitting, and errand services for healthcare workers after the state temporarily closed schools.
  • Aerlingus is allowing people to donate their loyalty points to emergency services works.
  • Headspace is free for US public healthcare professionals and  K-12 teachers for all of 2020.
  • Luxury bridalwear, Pronovias Group (based in Catalonia, Spain), is donating wedding dresses to hospital-employed brides-to-be working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The curated 'The Heroes Collection, is especially for all hospital employees, from doctors and nurses to janitors and cafeteria staff and available until August 2020.
  • BP is offering free fuel to emergency services.
  • Brewgooder beer is offering a 4 pack of beer + a message of support to any NHS worker, ready for redemption when they are ready. A $6 donation on their website will sponsor a worker. Xite Energy is also offering free crates directly to hospitals.
  • Allbirds initially offered a free pair to any US healthcare worker but were overrun with requests. Now have pivoted to a “buy-one-give-one” model.


Businesses supporting businesses

  • Diago Drinks created a $1M fund to support free-trade pubs and bars across the UK to cover bartenders wages.Bacardi has now committed $3M.
  • The team at the Bolton Hotel in Wellington have launched the #ViralKindness project where they are encouraging people at buy gift vouchers at more than 30 small Wellington businesses.
  • Vans have teamed up with 30 small businesses (skate stores, restaurants and music venues), worked with them to design custom shoe designs,with all profits going to the small businesses. The campaign is called “Foot the Bill”.
  • Getty Images launched a Reportage Grant series, giving photographers $5,000 grants for the best COVID-19 photojournalism stories.
  • UberEats offering zero fees delivery for local restaurants.
  • Mark Cuban is reimbursing employees lunch and coffee purchases from local, independent small businesses.
  • Facebook has announced $100 million in grants for small businesses.
  • Amazon announced a $5 million relief fund for small businesses in the vicinity of its headquarters


BEST-IN-CLASS SPOTLIGHT: Shopify

  • Offering $200 million in small business funding via Shopify Capital
  • Making physical and digital gift cards available on all new and existing Shopify plans.
  • Offering a 90-day free trial for all new customers (usually 14 days)
  • Live webinars to help businesses set up websites and weather the storm
  • Creating more delivery choices/drop downs in service e.g. create a local delivery option only visible to customers who live in that zone. Early next week will enable retailers using Shopify POS to offer in-store or sidewalk pick up for online orders.



BEST-IN-CLASS SPOTLIGHT: ClassPass

  • Allowing users to donate to their favourite studios to keep them afloat and matching donations up to $1M.
  • Enabled live streamed classes/training sessions bookable using credits with 100% of the proceeds going to the studios.
  • We encouraging people to bypass their own service and directly buy 10-packs, gift cards or memberships to their favorite studios.
  • Advocating for government assistance to help their users (studios, gyms and wellness providers) get through COVID-19 .



Food service keeping people safe and fed

  • Restaurant reservation platform, OpenTable has expanded its offering to let users reserve timeslots for grocery shopping.
  • Fairway Markets skip-checkout app is signing up more than 1,000 new users a day. As customers put their items in their bags, then scan the barcodes with their app and pay before leaving. 1/20 are audited to reduce theft.
  • Supermarkets around the world are offering early morning ‘elderly shopping hours’ so they can get groceries without risk. The UK government has directly asked supermarkets to set up delivery hotlines for the elderly. Pack’n’Save Gisborne has set up an isle for elderly only.
  • Woolworths Australia is partnering with Meals on Wheels to distribute essential items to the eldelry that are selling out in supermarkets e.g. toilet paper.
  • MyFoodBag offering The BackUp Box with ingredients for 7+ meals that can can be stored for 6months+ in case you need it.
  • DoorDash plans to deliver $1M of groceries and prepared food to vulnerable people
  • Zuru are asking people to donate to The Foodbank Project and for every dollar donated Zuru will match donations.
  • Mr. Holmes Bakehouse has pivoted to selling bread-making kits to legions of new home bakers.


How service businesses are helping

  • New website ‘You Probably Need a Haircut’ allows you to book an appointment online with more than a dozen barbers and be coached through cutting your own hair.
  • Dental Monitoring, has developed a smartphone-based setup that allows patients to have their teeth checked in one minute from home. The patient simply places the retractor into their mouth and insert their phone into the ScanBox.  An app provides guided audio cues for how the patient should move the ScanBox, which takes a series of photos of their teeth which are then analysed by AI and orthodontists are alerted if they need to check manually.
  • BlaBlaCar (ride sharing app) launching BlaBlaHelp, a community of helpers to those how need grocery and other shopping items with verified users.
  • Thai Airways, is rewarding people who stay at home by giving away free airline miles. You active the offer on your Thai Airways app and get a mile for 4 hours at home.
  • Irish Postal Service workers are checking in on the vulnerable and elderly and aggregating requests for food and medicine back to social services.
  • U-Haul has announced 30 days of free self-storage to all impacted college students.
  • At home workout apps like the seven apps under the Downward Dog range and Peloton are downloadable for free or for extended trial periods.
  • Les Mills and TVNZ has teamed up to bring online fitness classes to our TV screens and ondemand for free
  • Signature Brew is paying out-of-work musicians to hand-deliver its ‘Pub In A Box’ product with glassware, snacks, a music quiz, playlists and beer.
  • Livestock Live has launched allowing farmers to buy and sell animals online through virtual auctions. The software can video stream a live auction where animals are dropped off at the mart and shown in the ring to buyers watching and bidding online.



Helping us feel connected  

  • AMI is launching KindCast and is offering up its TV commercial spots to help Kiwis share messages of kindness.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill is trying to put an uplifting spin via “Chipotle Together” virtual hangouts on Zoom. Each day this week, 3,000 fans will be able to mingle virtually with celebrities in online chats that will also include codes for free entrées.
  • BrewDog breweries are opening 102 bars online this Friday, offering beer tasting, homebrewing masterclasses and pub quizzes. The goal is to replicate the 102 BrewDog bars around the world.
  • Facebook launches feature allowing people to request or offer help to neighbours during Covid-19
  • #PBLOCKDOWNLOLS sets a daily “Taskmaster-style” challenge, asks people to complete them on video and submit for prizes.


Providing basic utility services

  • Comcast is giving free internet for two months to low income families in the US
  • Telstra is also providing pensioners with unlimited home phone calls.
  • AT&T is the first mobile providers to give three months of free mobile data to healthcare workers and first responders via their First Responder plans and a $200 credit to any new sign up.
  • BP is offering free delivery or meals and convenience goods to the elderly from its retail sites.


How entertainment, sports and media businesses are helping

  • NBCUniversal offering its newest movies for affordable rates on demand.
  • The Metropolitan Opera is streaming operas for free.
  • A Netflix Watch Party Chrome extension has been released so we can all binge watch simultaneously
  • To help teachers and students learning from home during the COVID-19, Netflix is making educational documentaries available for free on its Netflix US YouTube channel.
  • Audible pulled forward the launch of Audible Stories, which allows anyone anywhere to listen to over 200 children’s stories for free.
  • Universal is launching a new YouTube channel "The Shows Must Go On," and it will stream a different on-stage musical every Friday—but just for 48 hours.
  • Netball NZ is now streaming NETFIT classes online and on SkySport to keep Kiwi netballers practicing while at home
  • The Faroe Islands is offering self-guided virtual tours via remote-controlled camera-wearing locals.
  • The top-tier Finnish hockey league, Liiga, is restarting its playoff season via e-sport. They have teamed up with Finnish e-sports broadcaster Telia to set up a tournament that will be played using EA Sports’ NHL 20 video game with a representative from each team competing.


Making remote working easy

  • LinkedIn is providing 16 learning courses for free e.g. how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.
  • Google Hangouts Meet free for all G-suite customers until July 1, 2020.
  • Slack is giving free access to Standard and Plus upgrades for the next three months.


Supporting employees

  • Starbucks is offering its employees and their families 20 free in-person or video counselling sessions via Lyra Health.  
  • The NZ based MusicHelps Wellbeing Service (a FREE 24/7 online or on the phone counselling service) has been extended to the wider arts community with immediate effect, funded by the NZ Comedy Trust, Auckland Live, and Auckland Theatre Company.
  • BBDO has done an internal campaign for staff allowing them to use a BBDO Home Logo generator for their “home office”
  • Many sporting franchises have created funds for stadium employees who can’t work while seasons are on hold.
  • Amazon creating 100,000 new roles in fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand and giving an additional $2 USD per hour to all staff.


Repurposing employees and talent

  • Chinese Beauty company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores during the crisis but redeployed its 100+ beauty advisors to become online influencers who leveraged digital tools, such as WeChat, to engage customers virtually and drive online sales. As a result, its sales in Wuhan achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales.
  • Laid off Scandinavian airline staff will be offered fast-track training as healthcare workers so that they can support the Swedish healthcare system
  • Auckland Council has seconded 20 people to help cook 400 meals for the Auckland City Mission.
  • Eightfold Talent Exchange jobs marketplace rapidly matches newly unemployed workers with urgent job openings, the platform screens millions of candidates and their skill sets in seconds.


Helping fight misinformation

  • WhatsApp working with WHO and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people and setting up a WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub
  • WhatsApp donating $1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to reduce misinformation.
  • Countless magazines and the New York Times have lifted paywalls on Coronavirus content
  • Social media companies now trigger notifications or pops ups when they see people using Covid-19 hashtags or content that directs to WHO website and other expert sources
  • NameCheap, one of the world’s largest domain name providers, has blocked anyone buying a domain name with coronavirus or vaccine in it.




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