Want to get your agriculture business online? Here’s how to get the government to pay for your website!
As many agricultural businesses have realized in the current COVID-19 situation, there are major advantages of being able to sell products and services direct via an e-commerce website. For many smaller producers in our area of Ontario, it’s made the difference between staying in business or going under.
The good new is that the Governments of Canada and Ontario have realised this too, and are supporting agriculture, agri-food and agri-products with e-business opportunities. The aim is to help businesses and organizations quickly expand their produce and products into new markets that are eager to buy online.
Funding for your agri-business website
There are two sources of funding:
Stream 1 - Bring your Business Online A grant of up to $5000 is available for eligible businesses/organizations to establish an online presence. So, if your business doesn’t have a website, now is the time to get online with a smart, mobile-friendly, robust and secure website with e-business capabilities that’s also easy to use.
Stream 2 - Develop Online Business Opportunities Your business can apply for cost-share funding to develop e-business opportunities on a larger scale. This covers up to 90% of eligible costs to a max of $75k. This is a great opportunity to get an e-commerce website for your business to sell a variety of products online, take secure payments, and reach customers across the province, Canada and internationally.
For many businesses, this funding is a real game-changer and helps future-proof your business against further outbreaks and accompanying restrictions. The suggested minimum project size under this stream is at least $15,000.
Who can access this funding?
The funding is available for almost any type of farm or agri-based business including:
- Garden Centres, Greenhouses, and Nurseries
- Agriculture Associations
Not sure an e-commerce website is right for you?
Don’t take our word for it - here are examples of three businesses who seized the opportunity and contacted Akira Studio to help them.
Shop Bike Coffee
Our own favourite coffee shop here in Bayfield had to close its doors to over the counter service due to the pandemic. Luckily we had recently designed and built a new e-commerce website for their business enabling them to sell their coffee online. Now customers can buy and get their favourite coffee beans delivered to their door. It maintains the original customer base of the store along with curb side pickup, and expands it through those searching online for quality coffee as their own local cafes shut down.
River Road Brewery
This farm-based brewery grows all the ingredients that go into their delicious craft beers. Akira Studio is now building a new River Road Brewery e-commerce store so beers can be ordered online and collected curb-side from the brewery!
Bayfield Farmers’ Market
Physical distancing is tricky in a traditional marketplace, so Bayfield Farmer’s Market decided to move into the biggest space of all - online! With a brand new website bringing individual vendors together, customers can pre-order a whole range of fresh produce from the online store for curb-side pickup. Once restrictions are lifted, the same online experience can continue to provide them with the freshest local produce in ways to suit them.
Want to take your farm, agricultural business, brewery or produce online? Call us here at Akira Studio. We have the expertise to create attractive e-commerce websites that work beautifully, with all the latest security, delivery, tracking and payment features built in. All you need to decide is what to sell!
What businesses are eligible for financial help with websites?
To apply for the website and e-commerce grant, your business need to:
- Be involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sectors;
- Be in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agree to remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project;
- Be a legal entity capable of entering into an agreement with the Province of Ontario;
- Provide a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number as part of the application process; and
- Be engaged in the project and be contributing cash towards the project.
What activities can be funded by the new schemes?
Both the $5k and up to $75k funding can be used towards:
- Developing, enhancing or expanding “an online marketing platform” (i.e. a website) with e-business capabilities
- Website design and graphics
- SEO research
- Social media marketing services
- Buying a new domain name
- Start up fees for hosting or licences (first six months)
Funding can also be used to train staff, create new methods of fulfilment and delivery, and even for minor modifications at your premises to comply with social distancing, such as curb side pickups.
How much does a new website cost?
With many web developers, the budget for a straightforward new website without e-commerce could easily exceed $15k. Not with Akira Studio. We keep our prices lean and cost-effective because we build all our websites in-house, using our own team and streamlined systems. Our website hosting is secure, robust, and cost-effective for any size of business, especially important for e-commerce and e-business website security and reliability.
Take note of the timescales
The main difference between the two schemes’ criteria is the timescale.
- For the Stream 1 Bring your Business Online award, your projects must be implemented and completed no later than November 30, 2020.
- For the Stream 2 Develop Online Business Opportunities award, your projects must be implemented and completed no later than September 30, 2022.
Call us at Akira Studio to discuss your products and services, what you’d like to achieve, your timeframes, and your budget. We’ll talk through your options, and explore ways to bring your products to the digital marketplace through innovative web design and good old-fashioned business sense. We can then provide you with a plan and current costings to include with your application form. Call us, email us, fill in the contact form - we don’t mind how you do it!
You can find more information at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness.htm.
Stream 1 Bring your Business Online award application form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness-stream1.pdf
Develop Online Opportunities application form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness-stream2.pdf