The B.C. government is investing an additional $30 million to help local businesses transition to online and e-commerce business.
The Launch Online Grant program provides up to $7,500 to businesses to help build or expand an e-commerce site. The province forecasts these changes will help approximately 4,000 more businesses market their products and services online.
“Many small businesses have had to change the way they operate as more and more people shifted to online purchasing during the pandemic. Our government has been there to help these businesses adapt,” Premier John Horgan said.
“By expanding eligibility to our successful launch online program, more B.C. small businesses from the hardest-hit sectors will have access to the tools they need to boost their online presence, grow their e-commerce capacity and become more resilient as we build toward a brighter future.”
The provincially originally earmarked $12 million to help 1,500 businesses enhance or establish their online presence. Currently, more than 3,500 businesses from around the province have applied.
Businesses in the hard-hit tourism sector, like tour operators or hotels, and businesses in the service industry, such as massage therapists, personal trainers and hairstylists, can now access the grants.
The eligibility changes will ensure 30 per cent of grant funds will be reserved for businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).
This is expanded from the original 30 per cent of grant funds that were reserved for Indigenous and rural businesses.
“The pandemic has impacted so many people throughout B.C., it has also disproportionately impacted people and communities of colour,” Black Business Association of BC president Nerissa Allen said.
“I am pleased to see funding set aside for the Black, Indigenous and people of colour business community. This change, combined with opening the grant program to service-based businesses, will give business owners and entrepreneurs the opportunity to access funds that will help revive their business.”
The Launch Online Grant program, which will be based on a first-come, first-serve basis, will provide eligible business owners support of up to 75 per cent of eligible expenditure to develop or enhance an e-commerce platform.
The program will run until Sept. 30 or until all funds are distributed.
To be eligible, businesses must have a goods and services tax number, pay taxes in B.C., have one to 149 employees, and had to have generated sales of more than $30,000 in either 2019 or 2020.