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Personalised Christmas Gifts

✦ Make a difference this Christmas by shopping with small businesses that have been affected by bushfire, drought and COVID-19. That’s what Spend With Us is all about.

Brilliant-online spoke to Spend With Us Co-Founder Jenn Donovan, keynote speaker at the recent #LoveLocal Festival Luncheon in Wauchope, NSW, who told us more about the online platform that is giving back to those who need a helping hand.

Spend With Us Co-Founder Jenn Donovan as featured in Brilliant-Online
Spend With Us Co-Founder Jenn Donovan

Spend With Us, Buy from a Bush Business is an online marketplace that supports rural and regional small businesses. “The easiest way to describe it is it's like an Amazon, but it's only for rural and regional, Australian small businesses. It started back in October 2019,” Jenn told us.

Spend With Us, allows small businesses in a bushfire, drought or flood affected area to easily sell their products online, even if they don’t have a web presence. Jenn said the online marketplace is allowing Australians to turn their hobbies into a business.

"What we’ve found as the platform has grown so many people had just hobbies, and then all of a sudden it turned into a business. They’ve realised that not only mum and their friends wanted to buy their products but people around Australia think that their products are amazing as well."

She saw a need and helped

Jenn is a farmer herself, growing cereal crops and breeding sheep. She lives on a working farm that she says went through the most horrific drought a few years back. “We have a dry land farm, which is really ridiculous to say at the moment as it's so wet. It's not dry land at all,” she said.

Jenn also has another side hustle where she does a fair bit of travelling around the country. She found that a lot of people living in rural areas wanted to get a bit more online traction for their products. “So, as the saying goes - if farmers don’t have money, their towns don’t have money. I started a Facebook group called “Buy from a Bush Business”. Buy from the Bush was a trending hashtag at the time, but not many people got how to use Instagram, like we're going back three years ago. We all know so much more now.”

Jenn’s business partner, Sarah Britz, was being surrounded by bushfires at the same time. Little did Jenn know though. "This was back in December, January of those very dry, hot years," she explained. "Sarah, a freelance web designer, started the online marketplace, the first iteration of Spend with Us, to help bushfire affected small businesses who had lost their trade basically, not only no foot traffic, but no tourism as well."

A Partnership Was Born

Both women continued on with their endeavours to help farmers and rural businesses in need. Then, about halfway through 2020, Jenn approached Sarah. She said to her, “Look, do you want to join forces? I've got this, you've got that, I think we'd be a match made in heaven.” So join forces they did and created what you see now.

“The online marketplace has about 1,500 small businesses involved and a little under 25,000 products on there now,” Jenn told us. “And the Facebook group, called Buy from A Bush Business, has around 369,000 people in it, I think. So it's a very big community that we work with.”

Jenn explained how amazing it is to be able to lift up the small regional and rural area businesses that have been through so much. “There was drought, bushfires, COVID, mouse plagues, floods, like, I don't know, it's just unbelievable," she said, exasperated. "I'm basically waiting for the locusts to come. It just seems like they're just being hammered with one thing after another.”

A Great Way to Support Rural and Regional Businesses

Not only by selling products, Jenn and Sarah also support people with their technology. Jenn told us that there are a lot of business owners out there who don't have their own websites. “So they just use our website; we do the SEO, we do Facebook ads, they don't have to learn how to do that sort of thing. They can just do what they do really well,” she explained.

Check out the website as it has just about anything you could think of, from Australian made products, to food, beautiful things for your garden, clothing and handmade items like soap, plus so much more. It’s a real mixture. There are also some service based businesses with the goal in 2023 being to build that part of the website. There’s only one stipulation: the business has to be from a rural and regional area to be included.

You could buy a gift voucher for someone special that is sitewide, meaning it can be spent on any of the 25,000 odd products, not in one shop.

So this Christmas, Shop on Spend With Us to directly support families and communities who are having a tough time. Buy from the bush!


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