How can churches support small businesses?
With lockdown extended across Greater Sydney and Wollongong, and as other jurisdictions take it up during the fight against the coronavirus spread, a number of businesses have needed to close.
In 2020, Australia had 2.3 million small businesses operating. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines small businesses as those that employ fewer than 20 people.
With lockdowns once again underway to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Federal and NSW state governments recently announced funding to support affected businesses with annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million, compensating them for some of the losses they will incur.
Economists Steven Hamilton cautiously welcomed the move in a piece written for The Conversation, but warned that there will still be uncertainty after the lockdowns end.
Based in the Blue Mountains, Anna Spoore runs one such small business, Uplift Fair Trade. As part of the wider Fair Trade movement, Uplift holds events in churches and community groups and has a shop in Katoomba. According to Ms Spoore, Uplift’s work supports and buys products from 40 producer groups, with part of this including support for disabled artisans, but the business is facing an uncertain future.
“Sadly all of our church events and church markets got cancelled,” Ms Spoore said.
“We had to close our shop during first lockdown and now with the second. We are not sure how our shop will survive. We have depleted all our saving helping our artisans to try and get food while in lockdown in India and Nepal.”
With the Katoomba store closed , Uplift is now concentrating on improving its website.
Ms Spoore told Insights that she thinks churches are uniquely placed to help small businesses in their area.
“One thing The church is good at doing is caring and right now small business need caring people to support them,” she said.
“Sometimes churches don’t want to be seen to promote businesses however at the end of any business there are people, and at the end of a small business in your community is usually a family, trying to make ends meet and providing a service to the community.”
“Reach out and connect, ask small business owners how your church can help, call them, send them a message on Facebook. Listen to their needs.”