Since it launched on 16 October, the social media campaign, founded by Grace Brennan, has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers, but a new report commissioned by the campaign has revealed the real impact Buy from the Bush has had on bush-based communities.
The report, which quantifies BFTB’s impact on remote and regional communities over a four-month period, has revealed significant increases in revenue, jobs and market access for regional and remote Australian businesses.
In fact, a total of $5 million was generated for the 275 featured businesses in just four months, translating into an average sales uplift of an extraordinary 300 per cent per business.
According to the report, nano-businesses accounted for about six in 10 BFTB businesses and generated a total of $2.9 million in additional revenue during the period. Micro-businesses earned an additional $0.6 million after being featured on BFTB, while small businesses gained $1.5 million in total.
Celebrating these results, BFTB took to social media on Friday to thank Aussies for their support.
“In the first four months of BFTB, your support achieved some pretty remarkable outcomes for rural Australia. In the midst of severe drought, by buying from the bush, you changed lives. And communities,” the campaign’s Instagram page reads.
“We have seen this with our own eyes in the communities surrounding us. We have heard the stories and watched the growth. But now we have data that helps us tell this story.”
The BFTB report also revealed that 21 per cent of businesses taking part in the campaign, from October through to February, hired new workers, while 38 per cent began shipping interstate and 19 per cent began exporting overseas.
Furthermore, growth prompted by BFTB saw 8 per cent of featured businesses transition from nano and micro categories to the small-business category as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
One of the businesses benefiting from BFTB is Kennedy the Label, a clothing and lifestyle business set up by a Nyngan mum to help her family though the worst drought in generations.
“BFTB came at the most incredible time. We had already seen the closure of most small retail outlets in our town and were facing another Christmas period in an economy where there wasn’t anything around,” Annabelle Kennedy said.
Powering women entrepreneurship
But BFTB’s success doesn’t stop there. In fact, the campaign has helped women entrepreneurs develop the skills they needed to build stronger, more resilient businesses.
According to findings, 97 per cent of business owners participating in the BFTB campaign are women, with 45 per cent branching out to learn a new skill as a result of their recent business success.
Mink and me, founded by Coonamble businesswoman Lucy Moss, has seen its online revenues explode, growing almost five-fold in two months, giving Ms Moss the space to invest in further training.
“We had a really good season in Coonamble, then basically the tap got turned off right around harvest time in 2016,” Ms Moss explained.
“The drought has been quite difficult on a store like mine. Discretionary spending is one of the first things to go when things get tight.”
With online sales now driving half mink and me’s retail business, Lucy is investing in upping her knowledge of social media and Facebook marketing — skills that will help keep her ahead of the curve.
“Buy from the Bush has given me the confidence and finances to take the business to the next level,” she said.
Community wellbeing boost
BFTB’s research also revealed another important element: the effects of the campaign on wellbeing. Namely, 90 per cent of participating business owners said they have experienced an improved quality of life as a result of the financial gain.
Overall, BFTB business owners reported that customers were more likely to connect with them on a personal level, leaving messages of encouragement online and on the phone.
A vast majority of business owners also said BFTB had improved community wellbeing by reducing feelings of isolation during the drought crisis.
Country co-op Wattle & Twine founder Amy Ballinger has experienced this first-hand. Aside from seeing her traffic grow more than tenfold, with sales booming off a base of only a few hundred dollars per month, Ms Ballinger has created a new bond with her local Jandowae-based community.
“Buy from the Bush has cemented in my mind that the Aussie spirit is really about rallying behind people when they need support,” Ms Ballinger.
“And the Aussie spirit is alive and well.”