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The Facebook Group that Changed Small Business Forever For Rural Australia

October 20, 2020 Social Media No Comments Email Email

It’s only been 1 year but changed over 285,000 lives.

The Facebook group that was created by Jenn Donovan, called Buy From a Bush Business, turns 1 on 31st October 2020.

In one year, Jenn has taken her online community, which supports rural small businesses from NO members to 285,000 members, and still growing at 100’s a week.

Jenn, a farmer’s wife and marketing thought leader, who lives in the Riverina of NSW, tells how she was driving home from a marketing tour, with her business, of the Riverina back in October 2019, when she came up with the idea of a Facebook group to support rural small business owners.

“Buy From the Bush was a hashtag that people were starting to know about but didn’t know how to get involved with.  It was the most common question all week during my workshop tour of Narrandera, Wagga Wagga, Moulamein and Hay”, says Jenn.

“I lived and was working in drought country – years of drought had hit these (and many other) towns hard.  It was coming up Christmas and no one was looking forward to it.”

“I know as an ex-retailer, that if farmers don’t have money, towns don’t have money – so no one really expected a good Christmas in their business”.

With the complexities of Instagram for some business owners, Jenn decided that a Facebook group, where people could just post themselves, was the way to go.

So, on Friday 31st of October 2019, after getting home from a week away, she created Buy From a Bush Business Facebook Group.

Jenn laughs at how she celebrated with such gusto at 5,000 members, 10,000 members, 25,000 members – having literally no idea that it would grow to be, not only the size of a small city, but an economy all of its own.

“I have no idea how much money has been traded in the past 12 months, but it must be in the 100,000’s of thousands – possibly millions”, says Jenn

“Some people who posted didn’t even have a business yet, just a hobby, but soon found themselves with a community of brand new buyers, from all over the country, wanting their goods”.

It was a strategic decision by Jenn, from the beginning, that it wouldn’t just be an “Australian Made” group.

“As an ex-retailer, I didn’t make my goods, so I wanted to support those who were like me.  Whether they made the product or not wasn’t my concern – I just wanted to help.  My theory was that if we didn’t help retailers like the ones in the main streets of our rural towns, we’d have ghost towns everywhere – which would further ruin the rural economy for many years to come”, says Jenn.

Little did Jenn know what was to come.

Many communities who were already hurting from drought, faced the devastation of the summer bushfires, loosing homes, livelihoods and the so important, for many communities, the tourism dollar.

To then, to be hit with Covid19 on top of everything else.

Many businesses then having no choice but to head online to make sales, to survive or to pivot for longevity (or short-gevity).

But selling and buying isn’t the only thing that Jenn created in her group.

She created connection.

She connected people.

She connected the city with the country.

She created a community that, even if they couldn’t afford to spend money with businesses, they helped in other ways like sharing a post, liking a post or giving the business owner encouragement or a compliment – which is, at the heart of it, what SOCIAL MEDIA is all about.

It’s in the title – SOCIAL.

Jenn and her team of volunteer admins spend 100’s of hours each week approving posts, answering messages, taking phone calls from members who aren’t tech savvy but want so much to be a part of the community and the movement that’s been created, and help their family financially.

With stories of bust to boom, and stories of friendship, comradeship, mateship and giving a sense of belonging, Jenn could never have imagined that what seemed like a simple idea to help, could turn into a small city of people who want to support rural small businesses.

Of course the story doesn’t end with the 1 year anniversary, with Jenn and her new business partners Sarah Britz and Lauren Hateley, having now created Australia’s first online marketplace purely for Rural and Regional small business owners – www.spendwithus.com.au

Lauren, Sarah and Jenn not only want to make Spend With Us a household name, but their mission is to change the way Australian’s support families and communities, who have suffered adversity and, in turn, positively impact those people’s well-being and livelihoods.

In a recent survey undertaken by Spend With Us, they found that 96.63% of Australia’s proudly declare that they consciously attempt to alter their shopping habits to support small and regional businesses who have been impacted by the triple threat of drought, bushfires and Covid19.

It’s groups and marketplaces like this, and other rural campaigns, that have changed the landscape and brought to the attention of millions the need to support local, support small and support rural.

If you want to learn more about the journey of Buy From a Bush Business, Jenn, Lauren, Sarah or Spend With Us, check out and be inspired by their about page – https://www.spendwithus.com.au/about/

So as we head into another Christmas, again with so much uncertainty, consider supporting the small businesses of rural and regional Australia at www.spendwithus.com – they even have sitewide gift cards to spend at any of the 550+ rural and regional stores.

If, by chance, you aren’t one of the 285,000 odd members of Buy From a Bush Business – join the group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/buyfromthebush

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