Need to Know
- Google Canada has committed one million dollars towards supporting 50,000 Canadian small businesses.
- The investment is a national expansion of Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program, an initiative that helps Canadian businesses set up shop online.
- ShopHERE originally launched in Toronto and has supported over 1,000 local businesses.
Google is set to help 50,000 Canadian businesses who have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The tech giant’s Canadian arm has committed $1 million to expand Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program.
Digital Main Street is an initiative “with the goal of ensuring small and independent retailers can shift towards an increased focus and prioritization of digital development.” The ShopHERE program helps small businesses set up online stores, in support of post-COVID economic recovery efforts.
Google’s one million dollar investment will support 50,000 Canadian businesses and artists to build a digital presence, such as launching an online store, to allow them to keep their “doors open”, employ staff, and grow their businesses amid the pandemic. This support is especially helpful for those who may not have the technical skills or resources for such a task.
“Since Google began its business in Canada nearly twenty years ago, we’ve been focused on helping Canadian businesses of all sizes to unlock the prosperity of the internet,” says Sabrina Geremia, country manager for Google Canada. “We remain optimistic and more determined than ever that technology is the toolkit for a world of opportunities. Our one million dollar investment will go towards expanding the ShopHERE program nationally, so we can help small businesses across Canada navigate the challenges ahead.”
One Toronto-based tea shop, Plentea, is seeing the benefits of the program already.
Before, Plentea would make tea drinks to order, but due to a slump in sales after the pandemic hit, they are now selling loose-leaf tea online.
“It was pretty evident in the past three months [that] COVID has destroyed quite a bit of our sales and the next best thing for us to do was to take on retail sales purely online,” said the shop’s owner, Tariq Al Barwani.
With the help of a ShopHERE consultant, Plentea launched a website and online shop and is already seeing traction.
“Anybody that is thinking about going live [online] should not underestimate the power of having somebody that knows what they’re doing on your side of the court helping you push through,” he said.
Over 1,000 Toronto businesses have joined ShopHERE, but the program is now nation-wide, expanding in partnership with Canada’s municipalities.
The City of Markham has joined as the first municipality to sign up since the expansion—because an estimated more than 8,000 Markham businesses are eligible for ShopHERE’s support.
In order to be eligible for the program, businesses must pay commercial property taxes and have less than 10 employees. The business also has to be independent and not part of a chain or franchise. Businesses can apply at digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere.