Supporting small businesses during COVID-19 quarantine

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Mercy Corps Northwest has created a resource to help people navigate the pandemic—everything from where to find free food, how to entertain your kids, and the best ways to support each other’s businesses.

These are unprecedented times, and Mercy Corps Northwest is here to help. Our team created a resource on everything from where to find free food, how to entertain your kids, and the best ways to support each other’s businesses in a rapidly changing environment. Take a scroll through this article, and pass it along, to help us give voice to the small business owners in the Portland area.

This situation is dynamic, to say the least, and our response will be, too. Pass this list along, share your thoughts and recommendations, and help us to update the list. We are stronger together! 

Here’s where to turn when you don’t know exactly what you need

  • – Whether you need food, healthcare resources, or shelter—or you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for—211info is always available for support. For quick access in 240 languages, call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, or email
  • Resources for Undocumented Individuals – A list of resources for undocumented folks who are looking for a range of support in response to COVID‑19.

Here’s where you can find free food and groceries

  • Oregon Food Bank – In need of food? Oregon Food Bank offers an online tool that allows anyone to search for free food sources at any time. 
  • Free Breakfast & Lunch for Kids  – What about lunch? Portland Public Schools is offering all kids free breakfast and lunch at 15 locations throughout the city while schools are out of session. 

Here’s where you can find free education and entertainment for your kids

  • Borrow a Laptop – For families with children enrolled in Portland Public Schools, you can fill out this form to be paired with a computer or tablet.
  • Free Online Education Subscriptions For Kids – While kids are out of school, keep them learning or entertained by exploring a long list of free and easily accessible resources for those with access to the Internet. If you’re working off-the-grid, or from your phone, check out  #operationstorytime, where famous writers read their books aloud on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • My Slumber Yard – My Slumber Yard has compiled the 19 best apps to help children and parents during these uncertain times as well as some other options that do not involve technology.

Here’s where you can find free education and entertainment for yourself

  • Stride small business advice  – Tap into this online network where entrepreneurs can receive and give advice for their small businesses. In challenging times, soliciting advice from others who understand what you’re working through can be a helpful way to put new plans in place. 
  • MicroMentor – Are you operating a business with services extending out of the state or country? MicroMentor connects entrepreneurs with mentors from across the globe to offer advice on anything you need help with.
  • Small Business Legal Clinic at Lewis & Clark – The Lewis & Clark Law School’s Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC) provides business transactional legal services to low-income small and emerging businesses and nonprofits. You can register online to connect on a number of topics including lease review, contract drafting and more.

Here’s where you can find assistance funds and unemployment resources for your small business 

  • Small Business Relief Fund – Closed – Prosper Portland will provide small grants of $2,000 -$10,000 to businesses impacted by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Both loans and grants have been designated at this time.
  • SBA Disaster Assistance –  Closed – The SBA closed its PPP and EIDL disaster loans after the appropriation was met on April 16, 2020. On April 27, 2020 PPP Loans will re-open.
  • Restaurant Employee Relief Fund – Closed –The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund will provide grants to restaurant industry employees who have been adversely impacted by COVID‑19, financially, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment.
  • Mutual Aid Funds – Whether it’s money, a service, or general support, PDX COVID‑19 Mutual Aid Fund offers a network of locals banning together to help one another get the resources they need.
  • Oregon Unemployment Benefits – Apply through the State of Oregon to get unemployment benefits. Under COVID‑19 regulations, self-employed individuals will have coverage options. Read their COVID‑19 FAQ here or contact your local office with questions. Visit this page for access to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act in multiple languages.
  • Housing Resources During the Pandemic – This guide aims to provide comprehensive information on homelessness. Our guide includes an infographic about homelessness in America, local resources for the community, along with financial support programs for vulnerable populations.

Here are a few resources to support you in continuing operations at a safe distance

  • On-demand Delivery Services – If you’re looking to keep your food-based business open, we recommend looking into on-demand delivery services such as Caviar, Postmates, Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats. With the quarantine in effect, more folks are turning to ordering meals through delivery services.   
  • Offer Future Use Coupons and Gift Cards – To keep income flowing, businesses should consider offering gift cards and coupons for later use on their products. This can be as complex as adding gift cards to your website, or as simple as creating a Venmo/Cashapp account and creating a promo code that you’ll honor for future use.

Here’s a list of small businesses in our Mercy Corps Northwest community that you can support TODAY

Food & Drink— Takeaway, Delivery, and/or Curbside Service

  • Favela Brazilian Cafe – offering to-go food. Order to-go on Grubhub.
  • Best Friend PDX – offering vegan and gluten-free elixirs, juice, superfood smoothies, smoothie bowls to-go and delivery by calling them directly.
  • Tov Coffee – offering coffee from their bus-based shop to-go and selling cans of drinks online.
  • PDX Empanadas – dig in to some tasty empanadas for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters at the Portland Saturday Market, in select New Seasons. Buy in grocery stores & online.

Businesses You Can Support Online

  • Firelight Yoga – take care of yourself while supporting local. Firelight Yoga is offering livestreaming of yoga classes through their website schedule.
  • Meridian Lee – support local fair trade by buying travel and everyday bags, homegoods and more from makers across the globe. 
  • Four Seasons Doula Services – Four Seasons Doula Services are offering free video consultations and virtual support packages to keep in-touch.
  • Queen Green Gardens – sustainable landscaping businesses providing landscape design, installation and maintenance in Portland.
  • Allie Sivak – need support for your food and beverage company? Allie is a consultant ready to offer small businesses support for just this.
  • Maija Rebecca – cards and stationery available for sending loved ones, friends and colleagues a note from the comfort of your home.
  • Oh My Dollar! – Financial podcasts, blogs, and forums great for maintaining social distance rules.
  • Texture Life Coaching – Offering complimentary life coaching by phone as a community service during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
  • Indi Chocolate – offering direct-source chocolate treats and goods from their Seattle-based store & online.
  • Mad Genius Escape Rooms – a family-owned escape room company offering games for small groups or large team-building exercises. They also have an “escape fund” where people can donate tickets, or use a donated ticket if unable to afford one.

Goods Available In Local Grocery Stores

  • Ice Queen – vegan and delicious ice cream and popsicles available at both Food Fight! Grocery and People’s Food Co-op 
  • Cardamom Hills Trading Co. – chutneys and relishes available at Food Front, Market of Choice, New Seasons
  • Molly Muriel Soaps – natural bathroom essentials and toiletries available at New Seasons
  • Honeybee Lemonade Syrups – lemonades and fruit syrups available at Market of Choice and New Seasons

Giftcards Available 

  • Misty Fall Bodywork – massage and bodywork. Currently closed for business through March. Also consider contributing to Misty’s ongoing Amma Bodywork Fund, which subsidizes free 90-minute bodywork treatments to marginalized folks around Portland. 
  • The Sugar Mama – cift certificates for natural hair removal and spa services

Don’t see your business listed? Email us here to be added to this blog.

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