Locally administered online website, Spend With Us, has received a $10,000 grant from Facebook as part of its Groups Fund initiative.
Fountaindale resident Sarah Britz created the online shopping marketplace and directory as a platform for businesses to promote their product or service for free, reach a wider community and accept online payments.
When Britz started it back in January, it solely focused on businesses affected by the bushfires.
However, this has now been extended to any rural and regional business across the country which has also been impacted by drought and the coronavirus.
Spend With Us was selected for the grant because of its Facebook Group page, which helps members find collaborations and offers further information and tips.
The funding will be put towards promoting and hosting local or virtual events and training courses, aimed at supporting the more than 400 businesses listed on the site and their business owners who are members of the Facebook Group.
Growing up in a rural part of the Central Coast, Britz has sympathy for the challenges smaller regional businesses have faced over the past months.
“We plan to invest in our rural communities in the simplest form, by getting more people to support and purchase from bush and regional businesses in Australia and showcase beautiful things available from rural and regional businesses,” Britz said.
“We aim to continue to support their business owners who are members of our group to achieve more sales and raise awareness of their situation.
“We can take huge leaps towards our goal, to provide a platform to directly support rural and regional families and their children who were suffering adversity and trauma following the bushfires, prolonged drought and coronavirus, and in turn, positively impact their wellbeing and livelihoods.
“The impact it will create will be both immediate – putting food on the table, and long term, building sustainable businesses with the skills and platform to make sales, grow and attract a continual stream of customers wanting their goods,”
Products and services which feature on the site come from businesses Australia wide and include goods such as clothing, jewellery, gifts, food, homewares, toys, accommodation, and even information on holiday destinations.
The website serves as a communication platform between the seller and buyer, with delivery organised by the seller. Britz said her website also gives Australians the ability to buy ‘pay it forward’ virtual gifts, which are then passed on to a local in need.
Alisha Elliott, Policy Programs Manager for Facebook ANZ, said there has been an increase in community-run recovery groups forming on the social media platform.
“The struggle and hardships faced by our country over the past year is a once in a century phenomenon.
“However, in the face of adversity, Australians have come together in a show of resilience and generosity to help those in their local community.”
The money comes out a $500,000 fund set up by Facebook and local businesses can apply for it until August 27 through the Facebook Australia Groups fund website.
Reporter Jacinta Counihan