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'Number-8 wire' mentality can help bring NZ through Covid-19, small business expert says

The founder of a non-profit site which lets people pay online to support local cafes says New Zealand has an innovative mindset which is helping it navigate Covid-19.

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David Downs says Kiwis are among the best in the world at finding solutions quickly. Source: Breakfast

David Downs helped set up SOS Business, which allows people to buy vouchers from their favourite local businesses, which can then be redeemed later on.

The site has now processed more than $1.3 million worth of orders over the lockdown and is being used by more than 2500 businesses.

Speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, Mr Downs said Kiwis have long been proud of their "Number-8 wire" abilities, and said those same abilities are now being put to good use.

"We have to move fast - in times like this, we're seeing the normal rules of how to do things break down really quickly," Mr Downs said.

Virtual doctor appointments and online schooling were generally thought of as being out of reach up until New Zealand was forced to do both, he said.

"The conditions for innovation have never been better, in some ways.

"Necessity is the mother of invention, I think Plato said, and New Zealand has always had necessity.

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"We're a long way from everywhere, we're a tiny little island nation, we've basically had to scrimp and save and force our way to relevance with the rest of the world and we've done that incredibly successfully many, many times, and this Covid-19 epidemic will be no different.

"Yes we'll have to pivot, we'll have to think differently, but actually I'm very confident New Zealand's got the conditions for innovation - we've got the mindset for innovation that will let us be a world leader again."