Outback Australians have always found ways to overcome distance with technology, from the Royal Flying Doctor Service to the School of the Air. These days, it’s the internet that is helping Australia’s rural communities by giving a boost to their small businesses.
Last week, in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute, we welcomed ten winners from our Regional Online Heroes initiative to Google in Sydney, selected by a panel including Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Birdsnest founder Jane Cay.
These business owners are getting on with growing their businesses, creating jobs and giving back to their local communities. For instance, Rae from Mind my Farm in Parkes has set up a business that matches farmers with expert farm sitters, allowing farmers to take a well-deserved break. Sheree from Wheatbelt Beads uses the internet to find new customers for her beads and other jewellery - and now exports from Merredin, WA to places as far afield as the UK, Mexico, Bulgaria and Canada.
Resourceful business owners like Rae and Sheree are using the internet to make their regional businesses thrive in a digital age.
Another great example is the national winner of our Regional Online Heroes competition. Tambo Teddies. The business was set up in the outback town of Tambo, QLD (population: 340) in the middle of a drought as a way of using discarded wool products, but is now a huge success, relying on the internet to sell teddies across Australia - and internationally. Alison, Kiralee and Tammy have used the internet to put Tambo on the map, create jobs and put a smile on the face of kids across the world.
Businesses that are making the most of the internet are twice as likely to be growing, and four times as likely to be hiring staff (Deloitte).
So we want to say a big good on ya to our ten regional online heroes - and to all those other businesses in regional Australia using the internet to grow and give back.
Regional Online Heroes 2015
Mind My Farm
Tambo Teddies (national winner)
The Rural Woman
Posted by John Ball, Head of Small Business, Google Australia