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Buy from the Bush generated $5m for small businesses: report

Buy from the Bush, a grassroots social media campaign to support small businesses in remote and regional Australia, helped generate $5 million, according to a new report.

AlphaBeta Australia was commissioned by Facebook and Buy from the Bush to analyse the impact of the campaign. It found significant benefits for the businesses featured and a range of flow-on effects for the owners of those businesses and their communities.

According to the report, businesses on average saw a 300 per cent uplift in sales within one month of being featured on Buy from the Bush’s Instagram and Facebook page.

Many of them acquired new customers, with 38 per cent starting to ship interstate, and 19 per cent starting to export overseas, after being featured.

Twenty-one per cent hired new staff to support their growth, 45 per cent of business owners said they learned a new skill after being featured, with marketing and advertising, IT proficiency and business and financial literacy being foremost among them.

“It’s exciting to share the findings of this research which illustrates the impact of our Buy From The Bush campaign on individuals, businesses and communities,” Grace Brennan, founder of Buy from the Bush, said in a statement.

“It’s evidence of how powerful community driven action, enabled by digital technologies like Instagram and Facebook, can be. It has changed lives.”

Brennan started Buy from the Bush in October 2019 to support businesses in country towns that were struggling to stay open amidst the bushfire crisis, as well as the economic pressures of recent droughts.

She started showcasing the diverse range of products on Instagram and urged consumers across the country to purchase online using the hashtag #buyfromthebush. Today the account has 234,000 followers.

Between October 2019 and January 2020, Brennan featured 275 businesses in the campaign, each one selected to reflect the strength, creativity and productivity of country Australia.

Ninety-seven per cent of the businesses were female-owned, and 57 per cent were nano-sized, turning over less than $5000 a month. Eighty-one per cent were run as side businesses.

Eighty per cent of the businesses were based in New South Wales, where Brennan also lives, with 15 per cent operating in Queensland, 3 per cent in Victoria, 2 per cent in South Australia and less than 1 per cent in Western Australia.

Ninety per cent of the business owners involved in the campaign said it had improved their quality of life by boosting their self-esteem, reducing financial pressure and connecting them with a support network of other entrepreneurs.

“With ongoing investment I believe Buy From The Bush has the potential to significantly improve economic and social outcomes for rural Australia in the long term,” Brennan said.

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