Modernising Small Business Digital Knowledge.
Idea title: Modernising Small Business Digital Knowledge.
One Sentence description: Grassroots support for non-employing businesses and micro-businesses to build digital competencies.
Addressing topic: Social Procurement Challenge
Team members: Kathy Shilvock and Janine Pohe
Provide an overview of your solution and how it solves the problem along with a short description of your inspiration behind the idea:
DigiUnite has a vision! We want to grow the digital capacity for small businesses, the cornerstone of the economy and a key driver of employment. We want to see a vibrant system of small businesses that distribute money around the community. We want to see an eco-system of Social Procurement!
We live in the beautiful, idyllic subtropical region of Wide Bay, known for Fraser Island - or as the local Butchulla people call it K'gari - the whales that visit us each year, the heritage city of Maryborough and Mary Poppins.
Statistically Wide Bay has a few challenges.
In the digital space Wide Bay has an average of 71-79% home internet use compared to the national percentage of 83%.
- 43% of our kids reached year 11-12 which is low when compared again to the national average of 59%.
- Unemployed rate is 8.8 which is sits against the national 5.5%, with youth unemployment standing at 20.6%.
- The average age for Wide Bay is 45 whereas Brisbane’s in comparison is 35 years of age.
We could go on, but highlighting these areas allows us to say that our challenges are what drives our vision!
We know that 40% of employment is made up of small business. But small business can be up to 20 people. We want to see these businesses thriving, and in doing so creating employment opportunities for our kids and others in the community.
We are wanting to engage with the non-employing businesses and micro-businesses, due to their digital knowledge being significantly lower than other small businesses. Think of it as a pilot. Make it work in Wide Bay, set the model, and scale up in similarly disadvantaged communities around Australia.
Describe your solution in detail, providing a high-level business plan addressing how you would implement your solution:
Our Solution for Small Businesses
Education levels are important for digital literacy, yet statistics suggest the educational levels of the region are low in comparison to other areas. Therefore we want to even the playing field. We want to provide convenient online digital modules for small businesses that build digital skills and social online aptitude in a friendly and useable way. This means hairdressers learn how to put their photos online in a legal and professional manner and set up Facebook with booking capabilities; and a gift shop retailer knows how to put their business on google maps. These examples bring small businesses online, not just for basic marketing but for social engagement and appropriate use.
We do not want to confuse our work with programs that are already available, but nor do we want to presume that everyone has the digital skill to google what they need to do. The solution here is we provide the what to know for small businesses and either show the ‘how to do’ or point them towards places that can help.
To build the capacity of the Fraser Coast small business digital capability with a view to extending the program to other regional areas across Australia.
Develop the small business modules of the area's small businesses identified through the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce and Maryborough Chamber of Commerce.
With our university partners, ensure our modules hold weight against education, social work, business, information technology research and best practice. Practical application is important but we want this to be backed by research, evidence and legislation.
Engage with a local marketing provider to look at ways to get the modules out and available for small businesses. Yes, ironically we want to teach simple marketing in our modules yet bring onboard a local marketing company. It makes sense, we want a great idea to have great legs! Our programs teach those that want to stay in local areas. Whereas we want to extend across Australia.
Our Fraser Coast businesses will be asked to participate in research that will be designed with our university partners. We will be researching the level of digital competency of small businesses in a region that has challenges with social, education and technology issues. The purpose of the research is to determine whether our modules provide benefits and how it achieves this. We anticipate our business owners will have disadvantage due to location and by proving this, we can build appropriate methods. You see for us it is not just about how many customers they can bring in, rather how much learning have they gained, money they’ve saved in digital knowledge and social impacts to themselves, family and community.
Launch our business model which is a simple one - we want businesses with three or less employees in the Fraser Coast region to have the modules at no cost. We understand how much it costs to set up a business and to keep costs going online. If this business model works, we will look to spread the work to other regional areas in Australia.
Outline the budget required to achieve the ambition of your idea:
We are looking at three main areas of budget allocation.
(1) Research - There are contributors in Social Work, Anthropology and Technology Information of which $10,000 will be used for this purpose.
(2) Module Design and Distribution - Designing the modules for businesses $10,000.
(5) Incidentals - Travel, accommodation, printing, related business incidentals $5,000.
Partnerships are critical for a stronger idea and delivering a solution. Who are the key stakeholders within your idea? Is your solution the result of a collaborative approach? If not, are you looking to bring other partners along:
Our non-profit organisation is producing online modules but wish to do so in a way that has impact. Partnerships with Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce, Maryborough Chamber of Commerce, Genevieve Bell, Griffith University and Sydney University would assist in the development of a tool that measures outcomes of Digital Inclusion strategies. We want to think big with these partnerships!
So our aim is not just to develop measurement outcomes but to develop a measuring tool that could be used by future small businesses to access their digital competency before commencing their business. As a small business, proving the social measures of their work for unemployed, woman, Indigenous Peoples as examples would provide them with evidence based practice.
To strengthen the likelihood of success, a broad foundation of evidence is critical. What’s the evidence base that points towards your solution being a success? Is your solution addressing an unmet gap in the market:
We will be looking to create the evidence through our research and university partners. Through our professional work we have seen a gap in the digital knowledge and the impacts. Given our backgrounds in education, social work and being small business owners ourselves we feel confident that what we produce with our partners will be a robust method of assessment for our modules work and other social benefits of this upskilling.
Who are the key beneficiaries of your solution:
Small business owners in the Fraser Coast region who do not have advantages the cities’ business owners have in terms of online knowledge and skill.
Do you have funding partners interested in your idea:
We hope just you. Your organisation is focused on social procurement and that is our focus. We want to find a way to expand our knowledge and learning to people like us. We hope this challenge will provide a partnership that brings you along with us in our vision.
We anticipate that once our research is completed showing how our modules grow the capacity of small businesses without the huge price tags; potential partners will see how our modules covering privacy, photography, social media, literacy skills, websites, cheap marketing ideas, cybersafety and research can be used in their regional areas. For example Tasmania is a particular focus due to their statistics being similar to Fraser Coast.
Describe your most successful experience executing a solution to a problem:
Our organisation wants to address the digital chasm that prevails in regional areas of Australia. However this solution will be our first as an organisation, but not our first solution as professionals.
Both of us (Kathy and Janine) have years of professional work in education, computing, digital literacy, community development, libraries and human services work. Both of us have obtained master's level of education with Kathy becoming an Advance Queensland Digital Champion. Also, we have pulled into the mix a chartered accountant in a voluntary capacity who works as a business analyst for a large corporate firm. So while we centre on the social needs and skills, he provides the business needs.
Optional visual/picture/infographic that demonstrates your idea:
Idea Opened: 11:11 AM, Friday 03 November 2017
Idea Closes: 06:00 PM, Friday 03 November 2017
Time to go: Closed