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Digital Boost Initiative Important To Support Small Business Sector

Today’s launch of the first initiative of the Government-funded Digital Boost programme will significantly benefit small businesses across the economy, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

The skills training and support initiative, available from today, is the first initiative to be launched from the Digital Boost programme, which is a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the private sector to support thousands of small businesses in realising the benefits of using digital tools and technologies in their business. Training will be available to any small business that has begun digital advancement and wants a boost to accelerate their adoption.

Ms Watson says increased digital presence has been key to the survival and success of many small businesses during COVID-19, with the programme expected to help elevate businesses who may be struggling with the process.

"Small businesses were badly hit by COVID-19, with revenues falling by more than 40% following the March lockdown. But tech enabled businesses that were able to quickly adapt to working from home and move their product or service offering online or amplify their online offering, were more resilient, and saw their revenues fall by less, and were able to better retain staff with 40% less job losses.

"Government support through this COVID time has been a lifeline for small businesses, so it is positive to see that support shifting towards a longer-term focus, providing the tools and training to best position these businesses for a more digitally enabled future, while also promoting resilience in such a critical sector of our economy, and a significant source of employment in our community.

"Increased digital enablement of businesses was always on the cards when considering the future of work and society - COVID-19 has just accelerated that transition."

While businesses are not currently faced with Alert Level restrictions related to COVID-19 and revenue recovery is close to 2019 levels for many sectors, Ms Watson strongly urges small business to make the most of this support available.

"While businesses can operate without social distancing restrictions, it is crucial that digital enablement doesn’t take a back seat to business as usual. This is essential to prepare for the possibility of an escalation in Alert Levels, to extend domestic and in some case global reach, to respond to changing consumer buying behaviour, and to make the most of an opportunity to grow the economy."

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