Facebook says that it has created this new feature to help local businesses — such as restaurants, fitness studios, salons, bookshops and bakeries — as they navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown.

According to Instagram, supporting small businesses and restaurants is an important part of its community, which is why the platform is also launching Food Orders. The launch aims to make it easier for businesses to get support from their customers through food orders on Instagram.

Users can find offers from participating merchants through:
  • a 'Support Local Businesses' ad in their Facebook feeds,
  • a 'Gift Card' button on merchants' Instagram profiles, or
  • in Stories through the Gift Card sticker.
"We know small businesses in South Africa have been deeply impacted by the local outbreak of COVID-19 and this new gift card feature is just one of the many ways we continue to support them," says Nunu Ntshingila, regional director at Facebook Africa.

"Small businesses will continue to play an important role in the economic recovery after the pandemic, which is why it is critical to help them keep the lights on and save jobs. We know when businesses do better, economies do better," adds Ntshingila.

With Gift Cards available through News Feed, Instagram Profiles and in Instagram Stories, the platforms say that this new experience "not only gives small businesses the cash injection they urgently need, but enables people to continue to support businesses as they reopen and start to recover from the crisis".

Facebook and Instagram conclude that businesses who are interested in promoting their digital gift cards on Facebook and Instagram can learn how to sign up with one of their partners.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com or www.instagram.com.