BC Government: Free supports for rural businesses looking to expand
Jan. 26, 2022
VICTORIA – Business owners in rural and Indigenous communities can benefit from free expert advice and resources as they recover from the pandemic through the Province’s Export Navigator program.
“The pandemic and recent extreme weather events have presented incredible challenges for business owners. To assist with recovery efforts, our government is providing them with opportunities to expand their business in new ways,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Export Navigator is a great tool that helps small businesses dream big and export their made-in-B.C. goods around the world.”
Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, said: “Supporting small businesses as they grow and expand will help strengthen the economy and create well-paying middle-class jobs. Export Navigator provides a much-needed and inclusive support network for B.C. businesses looking to reach new customers and capitalize on global opportunities, which, in turn, will increase Canada’s competitiveness and create new jobs across the province.”
Since 2016, Export Navigator has helped more than 700 B.C. businesses export their products across Canada and internationally. Export Navigator advisers help small business owners identify new market opportunities, provide referrals to provincial and federal services, funding and business connections and offer logistical, customs and financing support. Since the beginning of the pandemic, advisers have expanded their areas of support to include online sales development, crisis business planning and helping owners access provincial and federal COVID-19 business supports.
“Our government is committed to supporting our economic recovery by expanding export opportunities for businesses across the province,” said George Chow, B.C.’s Minister of State for Trade. “Export Navigator is one way we’re helping small business owners capitalize on what makes them special so they can reach new markets beyond our borders.”
Mel Divers, owner of Moonshine Mama’s Elixirs, never imagined herself as a business owner, but a cancer diagnosis led her down a path to create natural immune-boosting drinks to help her recover from chemotherapy. As time progressed, the Salt Spring Island resident found herself sharing her concoctions at farmers’ markets. Soon she connected with an Export Navigator adviser. They worked together to expand across Canada. Later this year, she will begin shipping her product to the United States.
“Because of Export Navigator, I now have the research, connections and the plan to start expanding to new markets,” said Divers. “The most exciting part of exporting to me is still just getting the next order. I’m happy to see customers from across the country support my business.”
There are nine Export Navigator advisers who offer expert advice. Their clients are businesses owned by Indigenous Peoples and by women and youth, and business owners in these regions: Vancouver Island North; Vancouver Island South; the Cariboo; Thompson-Okanagan; Kootenay Boundary; Pacific Northwest; and Northeast.
The Export Navigator program is managed by the Province in partnership with Pacific Economic Development Canada and delivered through Small Business BC and Community Futures. Since 2019, the Province has provided $3.6 million and the Pacific Economic Development Canada has provided $2.25 million for the program.
- B.C. has more small businesses per capita than anywhere else in Canada.
- Small businesses employ more than 1.1 million people, accounting for 53% of the province’s private-sector employment.
- Exports play a fundamental role in driving economic growth and creating jobs. They account for more than 60% of Canada’s gross domestic product, and countrywide, are responsible for one in five jobs.
- Since 2019, Export Navigator companies’ sales within Canada have grown by more than $6 million and internationally, by nearly $11 million.
Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation