A NEW volunteer-led initiative set up in Limerick will use smart technology to connect customers who want to support their favourite local business by allowing them to buy vouchers to be collected at a later date when businesses reopen.
‘Lean on me’ is an initiative devised by @LiveableLimerick and a group of local volunteers to help local Limerick businesses with the aim of connecting people who feel they want to contribute some cash with their favourite local business.
The initiative especially helps business that do not have the existing IT infrastructure, such as a website or online store, to generate very essential cash flow and sell vouchers online.
Founding member of Lean on me, Joe Brooks, said the initiative will help businesses “that we all care about” that are “part of the fabric of Limerick City and County”.
Mr Brooks said, “They provide us with our daily coffee, our groceries, clothing and even the odd social gathering at the weekend. We want, and need, to see these businesses reopen.”
The Lean On Me founder believes allowing these small businesses fight through the COVID-19 emergency on their own “does not coincide with the Limerick spirit”.
“While we appreciate and empathise with many people not being in a position to continue to support their local favourite business, we hope there are many people out there that are lucky enough to still be in a position to offer support now when their local business needs it more than ever,” he said.
Lean on me’s overall goal is to re-start the cashflow for local businesses which may have seen their doors close, and cash income dry up, but bills still come.
The initiative aims to ensure that local businesses re-open and flourish when the time is right, it hopes the people of Limerick’s immediate support will help with this in the coming months.
The businesses hosted on Lean on me are businesses that everyone really wants to see open when we return back to normal. They are businesses that mean something to you (and us!). They are businesses that are not big enough to survive this on their own. The list of criteria is short, but it is important that as many people and businesses as possible get involved.
• Independent retailer, or small chain with local origins
• Locally operated and managed
• Essential to the personality and fabric of Limerick
• Irreplaceable if not sustained
The online portal, www.leanonme.eu, was built by Sean Ryan and his team at elive (a local Limerick business) while Pat Fitzgerald and his team at Grid Finance (another local business) will manage the safe transfer of funds from the customer to the business. This process is supported by a wider team of local volunteers from all different types of backgrounds but with one aim – to keep our favourite businesses going.
Sean Ryan, Managing Director of elive and member of Lean on me said, “It is great to see such a community spirit when it comes to supporting local business.”
Mr Ryan said as part of a local business himself, he knows “how important this will be in keeping them going”.
“It is great to see such a large amount of local businesses looking to support other local business, from Pat and his team at Grid Finance, to Will’s team at the Limerick Post and Miriam’s team at Sellors everyone showed a real appetite to volunteer their time from the get-go and get this system up and running.”
The elive Maniging Director said the process of using the Lean on me website is “really straight forward”.
He said, “The customer comes to www.leanonme.eu and they select their amount and their chosen business input their payment information and that’s it. They will receive a confirmation receipt and the retailer will reach out letting them know how to redeem their voucher”
The idea started when local business leaders John Moran and Joe Brooks found a shared desire to support their favourite local Limerick businesses throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Since then, they have rallied the troops, using the #liveablelimerick network and found no shortage of volunteers with Will Ryan of the Limerick Post, local economist Seán Golden and Miriam O’Connor of Sellors Solicitors quickly showing an interest in getting involved.
The Lean on me team now stands at 10 direct volunteers with much more help coming from the wider community in Limerick as the days go on.
Because of the travel restrictions, the team would particularly like to have other local business champions from all across the county make contact to see how the network of participating businesses to be supported can be expanded.
The process is simple. For vendors, they register their details on www.leanonme.eu and supply the relevant information then create awareness amongst the local community that they are now “open for business”.
For customers it is just as easy, log on to www.leanonme.eu purchase a coupon (or coupons) for your business of choice and the retailer will reach out to you directly to discuss how you can redeem your voucher(s).
While the process is simple, it will go a long way in helping the local business that we care most about. After all, SMEs in Limerick account for more than 44% of total employment, they are often the linchpin of many local communities and they are the businesses where many of us began our careers.
The website will goes live today, Monday, April 20 with business and customers both being able to start supporting each other.
Chair of #LiveableLimerick and founding member of Lean on me, John Moran said the project can work because “Limerick is, above all, a county with a strong sense of community and belonging”.
“We know how to survive by supporting each other,” he said, continuing, “Lean on me looks to help our small businesses out by allowing them to rely on all of us just a little to get through this.
“Even €10 makes a big difference to a small business if enough people are able to contribute.
“Small and medium enterprises employ a substantial amount of people in both Limerick City and County they sustain a greater number of families through employment and operating in local areas. We want this to continue.”
A full list of businesses volunteering their time to set up and support Lean on me are: