VICTORIA, B.C – The province is supporting B.C. businesses pivoting to online sales with a new grant program.

With more people buying items online, the province announced a $12 million investment in the new Launch Online Grant program on Wednesday.

Over 1,500 small- and medium-sized B.C. businesses are eligible to apply for the funding to support building or improving their e-commerce operations. Business owners will be able to apply for up to $7,500.

“Businesses need access to the tools and supports that will help them adapt and pivot during this uniquely challenging time,” says Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This program will provide business owners with the ability to expand their online presence and create a customized e-commerce site that will give them the boost they need to keep moving forward.”

He added that two-thirds of businesses in B.C. are currently relying on government programs.

“We’re seeing a major shift in our economy. We’re seeing that now, what we thought was maybe five or seven years from now, that transition to going to more digital, more online, is happening in one year. And so we know we need to support our small businesses in that transition. It’s critical. So that’s why we’ve launched this new program and I think it’s going to have a big pick-up.”

In order for businesses to be eligible for the funding they must fit the following criteria:

With over $305 billion in e-commerce sales in Canada in 2019, the numbers are projected to have doubled through 2020 and are expected to increase further in 2021.

The funding can be used for several online-related expenses, including pictures, creating an online inventory system, advertising costs, subscription costs of an e-commerce platform and training staff to manage the website.

Applicants must use one or more local B.C. service providers to complete their online store. The program will run until Mar. 31st or until all funds are distributed.

The program is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response.