Helping Communities affected by Bushfire, Drought and COVID-19

Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business Marketplace, (www.spendwithus.com.au) is an online shopping marketplace and directory for rural and regional small businesses of Australia who have been impacted by bushfire, drought, and coronavirus. Spend With Us supports rural businesses that find it hard to compete due to location, size, technology, and other adversities.

Our mission is to change the way Australian’s support families and communities, who have suffered adversity and, in turn, positively impact those people’s well-being and livelihoods.

The website was created in January 2020 by Sarah Britz, a Web Designer from the Central Coast NSW and supported through social media initiatives by Lauren Hateley, a Clinical Psychologist from rural Victoria.  The feeling of helplessness overcame both Sarah and Lauren as the bushfires were raging across the country. As a result, they created the Spend With Us initiatives with the desire to help those who were experiencing significant trauma and wanting to do more than donating to their chosen charities.

As the immediate crisis from the bushfires subsided and life returned to normal for many Australian’s, residents of the fire-affected communities, were only then beginning their long journey of recovering and rebuilding. Spend With Us evolved to support small rural businesses in bushfire affected communities and aimed to help them bounce back and keep them afloat later on, in turn positively influencing the mental health of as many families and their children as possible.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, Jenn Donovan, Founder of Buy from a Bush Business, was growing a community of people who wanted to support small rural and regional businesses throughout the devasting prolonged drought that had a grip hold on so many rural communities.

Jenn’s idea was to create a group that small businesses from rural Australia could post their products on and gain sales. Jenn’s passion for helping others affected by drought comes from living through the drought herself on a property in the Riverina NSW and seeing her family, her neighbours and friends go through all that rural life throws at them. Jenn’s Facebook group, Buy From a Bush Business, soon went viral and the community had grown past 260,000 members in less than 6 months.

The marketplace you see today, version 2 of Spend With Us, is what happens when 3 passionate women, all with rural connections, choose to work together and build a platform that will help sustain rural and regional small businesses across Australia, long after bushfires are put out, the drought eases or the coronavirus pandemic is contained.

Now with a large community of sellers on their marketplace platform, an enormous (and growing) community on social media, and buyers from around the world eager to support rural and regional Australia, Sarah, Lauren & Jenn, are changing the way Australian’s support families and communities who have suffered adversity and, in turn, positively impacting many people’s well-being and livelihoods.

Connecting the city and the bush, Spend With Us provides a platform where every rural or regional small business can create their own free website store and Australians across the country can find their products and support them. All communication is done directly between the Seller and Buyer, Spend With Us just provides the platform for them to connect. When you shop on Spend With Us, you’re making a difference (& plus a small business owner does a happy dance!)

About the Founders

Sarah Britz

Sarah lives on a rural property on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia with her husband, two young children and two dogs. She’s a web designer and developer passionate about helping small businesses fulfil their dreams & bring their ideas to digital life (www.sarahbritz.com.au).

Spend With Us came about after she offered her services pro-bono to any businesses affected by the bushfires.

Sarah’s family were extremely lucky that their property survived the recent bushfires and she wanted to help using her skills and knowledge and give back to the community as best as she could.

Sarah built this website in her spare time and continues to provide support to the many businesses that have joined the platform. Sarah hopes it will give small business owners a space to promote their businesses and gain new customers.

Her aim is for these rural & regional small businesses to be able to increase their sales and get the word out to Australians who wouldn’t otherwise know they exist, and for customers to find and purchase amazing local products and pay-it-forward gifts, knowing that their money is going directly to those in need.

Lauren Hateley

Lauren resides in a small rural town in North East Victoria, Australia with her husband, two young boys and a few special pets.

She grew up on a family farm and as a Clinical Psychologist, she is passionate about supporting children, young people, parents and families through difficult times. Lauren’s family also owns a farm supplies store in rural Victoria, and so Lauren is appreciative of the challenges faced by small business owners during times of economic instability.

Lauren also has a deep passion for rural health and created the Vic Spend With Us Facebook page in January 2020 due to feeling helpless whilst the bushfires were raging across Victoria and wanting to do more than just donating money to her selected charity.

Her goal was to provide a platform to directly support Victorian families and their children who were suffering adversity and trauma following the bushfires and in turn positively impact their well-being and livelihoods.

Lauren and Sarah joined forces as a collaboration and together, Spend With Us aims to show Australian’s who have been impacted by bushfires or drought that we are here to support them.

They want to show people who are in rural communities, who have lost their homes or have properties devastated by natural disasters, lost significant income in their business, and are feeling a build-up of emotional distress, that they can continue to be supported via an online platform.

Jenn Donovan

Jenn lives on a farm in the Riverina of NSW, with her husband and 3 children.  Jenn runs a social media and marketing business from her home office (Social Media & Marketing Australia) and supports small business owners by helping them get the most from their marketing. 

Jenn travels around rural towns hosting marketing and social media workshops, and it was the return from a week’s tour of drought-ravaged NSW that she came up with the idea, in October 2019, to start a Facebook group, called Buy From a Bush Business, which would allow businesses in rural areas to gain more traction with their marketing, and obtain more sales and more customers.

Jenn initially invited all her clients, workshop attendees and friends to the group and really underestimated the power of what she’d created.

In only a few short months, the group hit over 150,000, and in 6 short months has over 260,000 members.

It’s an economy all unto itself. 

Jenn, wanting more for her Facebook group sellers, initiated a conversation with Lauren and Sarah, from Spend With Us, and this here, the website you are on right now, is the result of that conversation, subsequent collaboration and amalgamation and friendship.

Jenn is so proud of what they have created, an online platform, that is changing lives every single day and helping the Australia bush economy back onto its feet.

Our Partners

Here at Spend With Us, we are proud to be partnered with other businesses, who are helping us make a positive impact on the health and well being of small rural and regional businesses and their owners.

Thank you to our partners Business Australia and Ruby Agency, who have dedicated their time, their energy and their resources to help us, help others.

Business Australia

Business Australia

For more than 190 years, Business Australia has stood by business owners – untying legal knots, boosting efficiency, advocating for better conditions and helping them grow. Today, they offer helpful advice as well as delivering practical solutions for legal, HR and workplace, apprenticeships, recruitment, exporting, cost efficiency and more. It costs nothing to join and any surplus made goes back into delivering the very best services and support for members, including a range of free e member only resources designed to help you get on with the business of running a business.

To join, for free, head to https://www.spendwithus.com.au/join-business-australia/

Ruby Agency

Ruby Agency

Ruby Agency crafts PR, communication and marketing strategies based on the individual goals and objectives of each client. There is no cookie cutter approach.

Ruby Agency has three different divisions; Ruby Lifestyle, Ruby Corporate and Ruby Technology. They work with a range of different companies in very different industries under these banners. Ruby Agency works with you to carefully craft strategies and campaigns that align with your business (or marketing) goals and objectives.

Contact Ruby Agency to find our how they can help you craft your PR story – to uncover your hidden gem. They are a sparkling agency with fresh ideas and we recommend you let them help you tell your story.

Contact them here: https://www.rubyagency.com.au/