JANUARY 26, 2021 | KELOWNA CAPITAL NEWS (BLACK PRESS MEDIA)
Innovate BC’s president and CEO Raghwa Gopal said the organization is mainly involved in the tech sector but as the pandemic hit, they realized they needed to do more than support tech entrepreneurs.
“Throughout COVID-19, we’ve realized that small businesses are the backbone of our communities and our overall economy,” he said.
“With the shutdowns, they got affected tremendously and so many of them were closed and the brick and mortar shops couldn’t do business at all.”
Innovation Island came up with the idea for Digital Economy Rapid Response and Recovery, DER3 for short, which connects business owners with coaches who will then help them navigate e-commerce and digital marketing.
“The idea is to put these businesses into the digital age. That means having an online presence, whether a website or being on social media platforms and giving them the resources to do online marketing and advertising,” Gopal said.
The program is available to local businesses in the Lower Mainland, Okanagan Valley, Kootenays, Central Interior, Vancouver Island, as well as North Central B.C. Businesses can apply and participate in the program, free of charge.
Local restaurants, artisans, hotels, equipment rentals, trades workers, as well as farmers are among some businesses that Innovate BC is encouraging to participate in DER3.
Once a business has applied, Gopal said Innovate BC will work with them to create a roadmap to recovering from the effects of the pandemic and get them back on track.
He added that in this way, small and medium business owners can get access to newly-developed technologies that can help them grow through their partners such as Accelerate Okanagan or the Kamloops Innovation.
Gopal said at the end of the day, the goal is to have the tech sector step in and help small businesses, which will revitalize local economies and soon, the province as a whole.