The Launch Online Grant program provides up to $7,500 to businesses to help build or expand an e-commerce site to reach more customers and to sustain and grow their business.
The new funding is in addition to the February 2021 announcement of $12 million to support 1,500 businesses to enhance or establish their online presence. Currently, over 3,500 businesses from around the province have applied, demonstrating the need for these supports.
“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,” said Premier John Horgan. “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.”
Businesses in the hard-hit tourism sector, like tour operators or hotels, and businesses in the service industry, such as massage therapists, personal trainers or hair stylists, can now access the grants to build or improve their online booking systems.
As part of the eligibility enhancements, 30% of the grant funds will now be reserved for Black, Indigenous and people of colour-owned (BIPOC) businesses, as well as rural businesses. This is expanded from the original 25% of grant funds that were reserved for Indigenous and rural businesses.
“The Launch Online Grant program responds to the way the pandemic has changed the business world, and the strong demand shows we are filling an untapped need,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “In addition to expanding the program, we are reserving a portion of the funds for BIPOC businesses because our recovery must be inclusive, taking care to not leave people behind.”
As part of the program, successful applicants will work with local B.C. service providers to complete their online store. Through this model, the grant funding can be reinvested in B.C.-based marketing and technology companies to generate revenues for local companies and help secure and grow jobs.