Rural digital entrepreneurs on the rise

The unprecedented number of people moving from the cities to the regions is bringing about a new level of digital connectivity in the rural areas, in turn boosting entrepreneurship in rural areas.

According to the Regional Australia Institute’s The Big Movers report, in the five years leading up to 2016, regional Australia attracted 65,204 more people than it lost to the capital cities and those numbers have increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, a new wave of digital entrepreneurs are opening businesses in regional towns and cities where housing is more affordable, the air is cleaner, and hobbies like surfing or hiking can be enjoyed in the hinterland.

“As a nation, we have discovered that we can now live where we love, rather than having to live where we work,” Liz Ritchie, CEO of Regional Australia Institute (RAI), said. “This opens a pathway for a more balanced population settlement strategy which we are now developing,” she wrote in in the institute’s latest annual report.”

Ritchie is adamant that regions will play a big role in navigating Australia out of the COVID-induced recession.

“Australia is an extremely mobile nation, with a propensity to change address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries,” Ritchie said. “If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it is possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions – and this is the RAI’s ambition.”

In response to these findings, newly-launched B2B wholesale marketplace platform TradeSquare has announced its commitment to support the ongoing “regionalisation’” of Australia with its vision to build an ecosystem of organisations that enable economic recovery and sustainable growth in regional and remote Australian businesses. It has also committed to empower and support the next generation of digital entrepreneurs and open up new trading opportunities that in the past may not have been viable.

Inspired Candles is one of the businesses that is using the Tradesquare platform.

“We are made, owned and operating right here in the country we love and we employ local people to contribute to the multiplier effect,” the company’s founder, Sandi Kruit, said. “Although there have been challenges including supply shortages, high customer demand and postal delays and working remotely to keep our team safe, they have all made us think differently about our digital connectivity.”

And Tradesquare is partnering with Laticia Gibson, founder of start-up Holgro, a digital ecosystem that help regional business owners manage isolation through accessibility to mental, physical, business and financial support. Holgro has been filming new arrivals in the country to create a bank case studies highlighting the issues people moving from city to country face and how they overcome them.

“One of the families we filmed had literally only been in the region for three months and already started two businesses that were doing really well”, Gibson enthused. “And they were servicing places like Japan, England, as well as their own backyard. They had a shop front, but from a digital perspective, they were able to reach out on an international stage and that kind of stuff is really exciting.”

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