Grants help businesses adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic

Local entrepreneurs have received a lifeline with funds from the City of Sydney.

Local businesses are changing business models and adopting new technologies with $10,000 grants from the City of Sydney to support the post-Covid-19 economy.

We’ve so far awarded $6.75m in relief grants to 455 businesses to help them survive the economic impacts of the pandemic and support those who are most vulnerable.

Three local businesses – new food delivery service Love Local, walking tour company Dreamtime Southern X, and event florist Petal & Fern, have all used the grants to help their businesses respond and recover.

Sharing local love in a new food delivery service

Hamilton Kings developed food delivery alternative Love Local thanks to the City's Covid-19 relief grant

Like many Sydney publicans, Hamilton Kings, owner of Honkas Bar + Eats in Potts Point, felt the devastating impacts when he had to shutter his venues in the city and eastern suburbs.

But the Potts Point local saw hope through the chaos and set to work developing a plan to not only save his businesses, but those of neighbours and peers.

While meeting with local counterparts, Hamilton developed the idea of delivery alternative that would help level the financial playing field and keep businesses afloat.

“I saw businesses that tried to adapt and work quickly due to the necessity to change and I saw others that have thrown their hands up in the air and say ‘this is too hard',” Hamilton said.

“I knew it was going to be tough but as long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how big the step, I was determined to get to the other side.”

The result is Love Local, a food delivery service that charges 12% commission compared with the 33% charged by the bigger players.

With a $10,000 relief grant, Hamilton intends to expand the business, which already has 20 registered restaurants, and develop a mobile app to complement the online service.

“At the moment we're on the website but the audience is limited. This is a massive bonus for Love Local and for our local restaurants,” he said.

“It's not only helping me but helping others.”

Learning on virtual tours with Dreamtime Southern X

The City's Covid-19 relief grants offered a lifeline to Aunty Margaret Campbell's business, Dreamtime Southern X

In 2014 Aunty Margret Campbell used her vast knowledge of Indigenous culture and heritage to launch Dreamtime Southern X. The walking and bus tours of Sydney city and surrounds are targeted at Australian and international tourists.

Almost overnight, as restrictions came into effect, Aunty Margret watched as her business ceased operations.

“We were on fire ready to trade and deliver. Business was doing great. My intention was to stay open and continue trading. But once the shutdown was announced, cancellations were immediate. Business went downhill very fast,” she said.

“It was heartbreaking. I along with my small team were enjoying the fruits of all the years of hard work, hanging in there against all the odds. After refunding there was less than $5,000 in bank.”

Faced with the collapse of her tour group, Aunty Margret did what many other businesses have been forced to do during the pandemic – think outside the box.

Her plan was to develop a virtual reality interactive educational tour and webinar sessions. With one of our Covid-19 relief grants, she’s now putting this into action.

Changing offerings from Petal & Fern

Kathryn Crossley's business, Petal & Fern, pivoted from events to retail following the City's Covid-19 relief grants

While businesses like Southern Dreamtime X have technologically adapted to counteract the impact of Covid-19, others have completely changed their business models.

Weddings and events florist Kathryn Crossley saw her business Petal & Fern cease operation immediately when government restrictions on gatherings came into effect.

Galvanised by the plight facing many of her neighbours and peers, Kathryn applied for the City’s Covid-19 relief grant help shift her business away from events and into retail.

“Minutes after the restrictions on large gatherings were announced, the first couple contacted me to postpone their wedding. Within days, nearly all of our wedding bookings for the next 6 months had been postponed,” she said.

“I had recurring business expenses that don't stop just because weddings are on hold. But I also knew that this was an experience shared by a lot of small business owners and that sense of solidarity gave me a lot of motivation to explore new ideas for Petal & Fern.”

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