September 15, 2016

Vancouver social enterprise launches cashless payment app to support homeless vendors

Vancouver, BC [September 15, 2016]

This morning Megaphone magazine launched its brand-new cashless payment App – the first of its kind in Canada—which will now allow customers to purchase the magazine from their local homeless or low-income street vendor directly through their smartphones.

As Canadians increasingly move away from carrying cash, Megaphone vendors have felt the first-hand impact of this shift. According to the most recent Megaphone reader survey, 45% of the magazine’s supporters surveyed said that not having cash on hand was a barrier to them buying the magazine.

However, the new cashless payments App will now allow the public to continue to support the homeless and low-income vendors who sell Megaphone on the streets of Vancouver.

“Megaphone vendors work hard in the face of significant challenges,” says Megaphone executive director Jessica Hannon. “By launching the App, we’re setting them up with technology that will help them continue to earn a living in our increasingly cashless society and help our dedicated customers ensure they can continue supporting vendors.”

Megaphone’s homeless and low-income vendors are micro-business owners who buy each magazine for 75 cents, and sell it to customers for $2, earning $1.25 for every sale. It’s flexible employment and community connection for people who may be struggling with multiple barriers, such as homelessness, mental and physical health challenges, or addictions.

Mayor Gregor Robertson was on hand this morning to make the first official Megaphone App purchase in front of a crowd of supporters and vendors. “Megaphone is one of the great social enterprises in Vancouver, not only giving people a way to make a living but in connecting people and making sure the voices of our most vulnerable people are heard. This is a great win-win that’s also classic Vancouver: world-leading social enterprise with Megaphone and an incredible new app. It really connects the dots for what we do so well here in Vancouver.”

The cashless payment app was developed in partnership with local tech firm Denim & Steel Interactive, and funded through grants from the Central City Foundation and the Government of Canada through the Canadian Periodical Fund. “Technology can often create divides between people of different economic classes,” says Todd Sieling of Denim & Steel Interactive. “We saw this as an opportunity to use technology for social good, connecting Megaphone vendors and customers in a new way. And as a small business ourselves, we wanted to support the incredible work that vendors do in our communities.”

Megaphone Vendor Suzanne Kilroy is one of more than 40 vendors who sells the magazine in Vancouver and Victoria. "I can pay my rent and support myself with dignity through selling this paper," says Kilroy, who has been selling the magazine for 7 years. “The Megaphone App will help me earn money to buy food and support my family.”


The Megaphone App is available for download through the iTunes Store and Google Play Store.


About Megaphone

Megaphone is an award-winning monthly magazine sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by homeless and low-income vendors. Published by the non-profit Street Corner Media Foundation, vendors buy each issue for 75 cents and sell them on the street for $2. They keep all profits. Visit www.megaphonemagazine.com.

For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact:

Jessica Hannon,
Executive Director,
Megaphone
604-341-5005
jessica@megaphonemagazine.com

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