Friday, 19 February 2021 00:27

Digital entrepreneurs hot on the tails of their city counterparts in Regional Australia


Australia is in the midst of an unprecedented shift of people from major cities to the regions, sparked by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but made possible by a new level of digital connectivity.

TradeSquare. It bills itself as “Australia’s first B2B marketplace providing SMEs with a digital platform to source an unprecedented range of products from Australian distributors at wholesale prices”, and “supports collaboration between local wholesalers, small business and corporates.”

Just last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Australian capital cities are losing a record number of people to regional areas.

Liz Ritchie, CEO of Regional Australia Institute explained: “As a nation, we have discovered that we can now live where we love, rather than having to live where we work.

“This opens a pathway for a more balanced population settlement strategy which we are now developing,” Ritche wrote in in the institute’s latest annual report.

The RAI’s report, The Big Movers (PDF link), “analysed Census data to confirm that in the five years leading up to 2016, regional Australia attracted 65,204 more people than it lost to the capital cities. And that was before Covid-19 impacted city dwellers.

“The trend is emboldening a new wave of digital entrepreneurs opening businesses in regional towns and cities where housing is cheap, the air is fresh and hobbies like surfing or hiking can be enjoyed in the hinterland.”

As the ‘regionalisation’ of Australia gains momentum, newly launched B2B wholesale marketplace TradeSquare has “shared its vision to build an ecosystem of organisations that enable economic recovery and sustainable growth in regional and remote Australian businesses.”

TradeSquare, which accelerated its development in order to launch during the pandemic when some state borders were closed and millions of Australians were in partial lockdown, wants 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, a wholesale distributor on TradeSquare, is one such business, founded in Wyoming NSW by Sandi Kruit

“We are made, owned and operating right here in the country we love and we employ local people to contribute to the multiplier effect,” 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.”

Among the partnerships TradeSquare is building to help support regionalisation is one with HOLGRO

Laticia Gibson, founder of a new startup called Holgro, has been “filming case studies of city dwellers who have moved to regional towns and seen their business ideas flourish.

“Holgro is a digital ecosystem which aims to help regional business leaders manage isolation, accessibility to mental, physical, business and financial support, to boost economic, workforce and business development.”

“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,” she told TradeSquare in a recent podcast interview.

“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.”

Liz Ritchie is adamant that regions will play a big role in navigating Australia out of the current, Covid-related recession.

“Australia is an extremely mobile nation, with a propensity to change address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries. 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,” Ritchie concluded.

More information is at TradeSquare here

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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