Napa earthquake victims will get help from the Napa Valley Community Foundation with $1.2 million dollars in grants. The money will be available for services ranging from medical care to temporary housing, food, and legal aid.
Entrepreneur Christopher Girdwood of Valencia, California, who witnessed disaster along the Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Oil Spill of 2010 says recovery work across the U.S. follows similar patterns. Nonprofit groups like the Red Cross and Salvation Army bring in needed water, canned food, and other basic supplies while officials with the various levels of government set up emergency relief operations that include low-interest loans for businesses.
Christopher says something else is missing in the recovery picture. “Businesses lose their customer base. Sales plunge and without customers and cash flow small business owners can’t pay back.”
During his time in New Orleans, Christopher, who worked with the Department of Defense and the International Economic Development Council in Washington, D.C., learned that small businesses wanted to make sales.
The lesson led him to establish Recovery Pledge, an online social media platform that will connect small businesses with potential customers from around the country. Christopher calls it, “Consumer-driven disaster recovery.”
“With the current model,” Christopher told me, “you can text $10, $20 or more to a nonprofit like the Red Cross but you don’t really know what that money buys. Recovery Pledge will allow you to purchase from a small business in an affected area and add a reserve fee like 5 percent.”
If the business is unable to make the sale, then the money is returned to those who made a pledge to buy. Christopher says his model provides much-needed cash flow.
“Maybe a small business owner is mopping up after a disastrous flood and he has to keep the doors closed. Recovery Pledge allows the owner to connect with a customer base from other parts of the country.”
He says when the web site is fully functioning, it will track where pledges originate and measure the giving based on geographical locations.
“Would a New York transplant living in Texas buy a few recovery pledges from a NYC restaurant trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy, just to use them when he or she travels back for the holidays? Or a shopper in Detroit buy from a woodworker in California after an earthquake or devastating wildfire? I know that will happen.”
Christopher is in the final days of a crowdfunding campaign to raise $ 7,500 dollars to upgade the mission-critical website. Click the Recovery Pledge page that includes various perks like a pilot program in a city.
He has spoken to small business owners in New Orleans and Los Angeles who are anxious to see the site operational. For Christopher, the launch will be the end of the idea stage that began while working in the south and the beginning of a new model in disaster recovery.