14 May 2020
For South Waikato District Council
After losing 100% of its business in the 72 hours leading in to the Covid-19 lockdown, Tokoroa based events company The Event Girl developed an initiative that injected $20,000 into the local business community on Mother's Day.
Rebekah Garner, owner of The Event Girl, began a business development initiative called IGNITE in April 2019. Designed to help small businesses in Tokoroa grow to reach their full potential, IGNITE acts as an unofficial businesses association for the region, looking to bring business owners together to collaborate, bond, engage, and learn from one another.
When the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic hit New Zealand in the form of Level 4 lockdown, Rebekah and her team went from working on their biggest year of business to date, to being completely paralysed. Watching local businesses in her community fall victim to the same condition, Rebekah and her team decided that something had to be done.
Through IGNITE, Rebekah and her team reached out to numerous local businesses to gauge their interest in being involved in a Mother's Day collaboration. Rebekah purchased vouchers at full price from local florists, balloon sellers, hairdressers and clothing stores, packaging them into bundles to be sold via a plug-in on The Event Girl's website and Facebook page. These Mother's Day bundles allowed for customers to support many different local businesses in one purchase, making them extremely convenient. Rebekah and her team were inundated with orders - the bundles were so popular that her team had to come back to work for a whole week prior to Mother's Day to process all the orders.
The feedback from the community and business owners has been overwhelmingly positive, with Rebekah reporting numerous requests coming through for similar initiatives to be rolled out on Father's Day, and available year-round for birthdays. Rebekah has reported similar feedback from the small business owners that were involved - many of whom desperately needed a lifeline during these times.
Rebekah has high hopes for IGNITE's presence in Tokoroa in the coming years, demonstrated by the huge injection of money the local economy received off the back of the Mother's Day initiative. "We'd love for the local business awards to return to motivate and stimulate our local economy, as well as providing training and support for business owners. Support networks for business owners make businesses stronger, and that's exactly what we're trying to achieve with IGNITE."
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