Coronavirus update for business: Supporting sex workers, cash for coronavirus solutions and the government turns to WhatsApp


Atlassian founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Updates upon updates

Last weekend saw a swathe of government announcements, with some new rules introduced and others promised to be on the way imminently.

We’ve put together a separate update explaining which of these apply to small business, and how.

What the app?

The federal government has partnered with Facebook and Aussie tech unicorn Atlassian on it’s two shiny new mobile-based COVID-19 information services.

A new WhatsApp information service and a coronavirus app are intended to distribute accurate information, and prevent the spread of misinformation.

The service allows people to choose what information they want to hear about, but reportedly doesn’t allow users to ask specific questions.

A new government app is also intended to provide “a trusted place of advice and information”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Adversity breeds innovation

US equity crowdfunding service WeFunder is offering $50,000 in equity-free funding for startups working on solutions to tackle COVID-19.

The organisation is looking for startups solving problems around social interaction, remote education and homeschooling, new approaches to vaccines and medication, distribution of supplies, ways to support remote workers, and other solutions.

Successful applicants will get the $50,000 in funding, plus access to mentors, office hours, fireside chats and online support. They will then pitch for investment of up to $1 million in an online demo day.

Requests for proposals are open now until April 3.

Marginalising the marginalised

Sex workers in Australia are calling for support from the government as brothels are forced to close their doors.

Establishments are reportedly trying to stay afloat by offering live-streaming services, but there’s concern individuals could fall through the cracks of the stimulus.

“I don’t think there’s gonna be any business relief, tax relief or anything for us because I don’t think people really think we deserve it,” one business owner said.

“Our profession [shouldn’t] stand in the way as to whether we deserve help or not. Because your profession doesn’t say anything about who you are,” she said.

C’est bon

Over in Europe, the French government has announced a €4 billion ($7.25 billion) COVID-19 support package, especially for startups.

The funding is intended to bridge an inevitable gap in revenue and funding for high-growth tech businesses, and comes in addition to the government’s €45 billion ($81.5 billion) package for small business.

“Startups represent a growing part the economy — especially when it comes to jobs,” French Ministry of State for Digital Affairs Cédric O said in a statement.

“They are also working on innovative products and services that have been particularly useful during the lockdown, such as telemedicine appointments, remote work solutions or deliveries.”

NOW READ: “A knowledge vacuum”: As COVID-19 causes economic chaos, will startup investment dry up?

NOW READ: HIV self-testing startup pivots to COVID-19 solution, and ploughs ahead with $30 million IPO plans


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