Grace Brennan’s Buy From The Bush has truly connected consumers in cities around Australia with small rural businesses.
Within six weeks of launching Buy From The Bush on social media, the initiative was helping businesses in rural Australia make it through one of the toughest droughts on record. Within four months of launching, the online marketplace had generated $5 million in revenue for small businesses across rural Australia, allowing them to sell their products to a wider market that otherwise may have been unreachable.
Brennan told Women’s Agenda recently that 96% of the small businesses on the Buy From The Bush marketplace are run by women. She says many of these small businesses were born out of crisis and are the result of women diversifying and working to create alternative income streams — away from agriculture or other traditional industry — in the drought.
“It’s fair to say that in farming communities, a woman’s job has often been considered a side-project,” she says.
“But in times of crisis, these side-projects become really critical to households and communities.”
In October 2019, Brennan founded Buy From The Bush from her kitchen table, starting an Instagram account showcasing products that can be bought from business in regional communities, hoping to attract some urban shoppers to stores they otherwise wouldn’t come across.
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Brennan shares that it was born from an urgent need to improve both cashflow and hope in communities that were doing it tough in the drought. Eighteen months on, she says the marketplace has helped communities feel visible and build stronger small businesses.
“Founders and business owners have felt visible and valued at a time when they really need to,” she says.
“Businesses are achieving scale, employing staff, and engaging in exciting creative collaborations. In a small community, the multiplier effect of one business scaling up can be enormous.”
In the end, it’s the spirit of the small, rural communities that keeps Brennan focused on promoting these businesses.
“To live and work in rural Australia is to be part of something very special. It’s not necessarily an easy life. But that’s not the point. It is a life that gifts you insight,” she says.
“The challenges, the characters, the relationships and the triumphs are achieved against a backdrop of hard work, determination, humour and service.”
Looking forward, Brennan shares that her focus is to continue connecting Buy From the Bush’s talent with bigger, broader audiences. She also says that working hard to grow Stay In The Bush, an online directory for rural accommodation offerings, is a priority.