US and NC see private sector, non-profit response to virus effects

A sidewalk along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, N.C. is quiet as restaurants, bars and businesses are closed or offering limited options due to the coronavirus Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Gov. Roy Cooper earlier today mandated all bars and restaurants in North Carolina close to encourage social distancing. Takeout, delivery and drive-thru options may still be available, depending on the individual restaurant. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)


As the economic landscape continues to shift under the feet of so many small businesses, innovative and creative responses have begun to emerge as bright spots on the horizon, in addition to North Carolina’s recent disaster approval from the Small Business Association.

Kabbage Inc., an Atlanta-based online technology company specializing in small business cash flow solutions has launched to support small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is a call-to-action across the U.S., enabling anyone to purchase a gift certificate from participating small businesses and redeem the full value after issuance or in the future when the crisis has subsided. Using Kabbage Payments, funds will be deposited as soon as the next business day to participating small businesses to help aid their ability to withstand cash-flow gaps caused by COVID-19.

Company representatives said in a statement that the program is designed so any U.S. small business can sign up to immediately seek financial support through gift certificate purchases from individuals throughout the U.S. They said Kabbage will also provide businesses a unique URL to easily share their personalized page with customers via text, online or print. Consumers can purchase as many certificates as they’d like for any amount between $15 and $500. Once certificates are purchased, small businesses will get an immediate notification and can use free technology offered by Kabbage to scan, verify and fulfill gift certificates when redeemed.

“The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses requires the support of a nation,” said Kabbage co-founder and CEO Rob Frohwein. “If there is a local small business that you love, they need your patronage now more than ever. Many businesses are closing and others are seeing reduced demand. The site is a means for the millions of small businesses that employ more than half of all employees in America to continue making sales and to feel your commitment to their long-term success.”

“We encourage everyone to think beyond consumer goods and consider all service providers such as local handymen, lawn care providers, dry cleaners and laundromats; they all need our support,” said Kabbage co-founder and President Kathryn Petralia. “Many weddings, birthdays and vacations are being postponed due to social distancing. Think about the small businesses you would have approached for those activities and purchase certificates to plan for future dates.”

The release also emphasized that Kabbage will not profit from its efforts to support small businesses during this challenging period, and it is actively working with organizations in the payments ecosystem to eliminate or significantly reduce any associated transaction fees.

More ways to help in NC


  • Statewide United Way chapters coordinating to help residents needing access to critical resources including food, hygiene, childcare, and housing assistance during times of area-wide crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds collected will supply funding for statewide nonprofit organizations providing the emergency support listed above.


For online donation options, visit


  • The American Red Cross has posted a “severe shortage” alert, and is encouraging healthy donors to donate blood to help make up for a loss of donations. The agencies are seeing a drop in donations because of COVID-19 and fear it will get worse as the disease spreads.


To find locations, visit



  • Residents experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to contact 2-1-1, a statewide United Way-funded hotline that serves as an information and referral service system for people in need, providing access to health and human services resources such as food, financial assistance, and more. This service is free, confidential, and available in many languages 24/7, 365 days a year.