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What can be done about rural SMEs higher disaster risk?

The 13th of October is International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction and the founders at Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business, Jenn Donovan and Sarah Britz, have a vested interest in doing disasters different and building more resilient and sustainable communities.

In fact, their whole business started from just that desire – to help those who have be adversely affected by disaster.

Wanting to solve the problem of small businesses in rural and regional areas of Australia that were hit with a lack of money in communities from drought-stricken farms, and no tourism and foot traffic from bushfires, floods and lockdowns.

So, on International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction, it’s time to ask all levels of government, all communities and importantly ourselves, what’s being done to reduce the risk to small business because disasters will keep happening and the landscape of Australia is made up of 98% small to medium size businesses.

“We need end-to-end and people-centred systems which will stop the spiral of disaster destruction and contribute to a more sustainable, more resilient and more equitable future.” Says Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR

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When disasters happen, we see a lot of finger pointing, a lot of talk about what federal and state governments should and should not do. But what about our local government councils? What’s their role? What should we be lobbying to them, to create a more resilient and sustainable community – the one we live and work in?

And what about us? What can we do as individuals to make our businesses, and our communities more resilient, more robust and more sustainable through disasters?

No one person, no one grant from the Government or other initiative is going to save you when disaster hits your business. It really is up to each business owner to save themselves.

Initiatives such as www.spendwithus.com.au have certainly helped to make rural and regional small businesses more resilient and sustainable by offering a marketplace and a Facebook group to sell their goods and services.

The world has changed so much in the past 3 years and e-commerce has grown over 20% every year from 2017 to 2022. Australia Post said Australians spent a record $62.3 billion online last year and their CEO expects that to double over the next 5 years.

So, for each and every small business in rural and regional areas of Australia (because let’s face it we see more disasters than in non-rural or regional areas), it’s important to upskill and have an e-commerce presence online.

Disasters will continue to happen, but it’s what we can do, today, as small business owners to help us be more resilient, more aware of our vulnerability, more sustainable despite the adversity, that will see us do disasters differently in 2022 and beyond.

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