HOW TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY THE BUSHFIRES
The concerns over the blazing fires and the destruction they’re causing in their wake are ever growing. Australia has been hit with the worst bushfires in history induced by the most severe drought and climate change. This fire season, the firefighting conditions have been particularly difficult, and the damage caused is increasingly alarming. 3.9 million hectares have been destroyed across Australia, leading many people to lose their livelihood, predominantly people running businesses in rural Australia. The shop owners from Toowomba, Queensland to lakes Entrance, Victoria say an uncertain future is designed for them and their community. Therefore, many Australians join hands in unison and support such affected communities to help regain their livelihood. One course of action is by shopping local to prevent these small businesses from folding under economic pressure as a result of this natural disaster.
Recently an e-commerce platform has recently been in talks, as it has managed to aid 118 small businesses with financial support through participation. It’s My Shout, an online platform created Melody Jarvis and Tenille Bull,helps people all over Australia purchase virtual goods and services from the small businesses in the areas impacted by the bushfires and the lack of tourism. You can choose a variety of items to purchase like coffee, clothes, dinner and even accommodation through the website, which is proceeded as donations to provided services to people directly affected. For example, paying for an accommodation could be used as a house for a family. The website includes cafes like Funky Monkey and clothing stores like Cotton On, and in a matter of 2 days it made more than $15,000 with thousands of Aussies supporting the initiative.
According to Matt O’Donnell, who is the owner of Lake Entrance Coffee, there has been a drop of 85% in the sales this January, making him lay off his summer staff as well. However, It’s My Shout helped him hand out more than 1600 coffees.
Melody Jarvis mentions the effort to recover is a long-term task and will take several years. One of the shop owners is fighting the fire under firefighter volunteering making him unable to look after his business, affecting him financially. However, with the help of fellow Aussies he received enough financial support to ensure he’ll still have a store to go back to. Jarvis therefore points out how people could help similar business owners, who are under constant pressure and stress, by participating in this initiative.
Turia Pitt, motivational speaker and a businesswoman, with Grace McBride launched an Instagram account 'Spend with Them' which acts as a medium for the customers to connect with the small businesses impacted by the Australian bushfire crisis. It expresses the customers to more conscious where they decide to spend their money and aid people who need support the most at the moment. The account has reached 180K followers, with products from several small business across different fields, from local produce to fashion.
According to Turia, most of the local business rely on tourists for their survival, which is currently facing a drop. Therefore, through this initiative people will be able to help these local businesses directly, aiding the people and the community. Vinteloper, Adelaide Hills winery, vineyard was wiped out and will take around seven years to forest what was destroyed making them join hands with 'Spend with Them' as purchasing every bottle would help them greatly. The initiative encouraged Vinteloper not only with words, but even purchases, supporting the Adelaide Hills growers and wineries.
A long-term social initiative by Zoe Manderson, co-founder of travel tech start-up Alpaca, has been launched called Roadtrip For Good, helping businesses affected by bushfires to get back on their feet. Registering themselves on the website would make them a landmark for the visitors when they reopen, using mapping technology. Through this initiative the communities affected would get the much-needed financial support. She further encourages the people to visit these towns and use their services after the dust settles, thereby inspiring others to travel to these communities in near future and show their support as well. She hopes it would make Australians plan their holidays in a different manner.
Some other initiatives include, NSW drought: One Day Closer to Rain (Drought) - Rural Cottage Crafts Facebook Page, a place where the farmers could sell their homemade goods to the world.