Back to Business Victoria puts all the relevant grant items businesses can buy in one place, to streamline reopening. Plus, all the items on the platform come from Victorian businesses.
The state government’s plan to reopen hospitality venues involves footpaths, laneways, streets and gardens being converted into dining spaces. To help make this happen, venues can apply for a $5000 grant to purchase umbrellas, tables and other outdoor furniture.
Grants are great, but it can be difficult to know how to start applying and where to purchase suitable furniture once you’ve secured some funding. The team at Back to Business Victoria has set up an online platform help take the guesswork out of grant applications and let venue owners fast-track reopening.
Directors Ari Lakman and Andrew Galak set the platform up after meeting on a walk only a month ago. Galak says the pair was looking for ways to help small businesses after Lakman’s events business Avenue Events was heavily impacted by Covid-19.
“Ari and I met for a walk around Caulfield Park with our kids,” Galak says. “We spoke about a range of things, but mostly about pivoting and dealing with Covid as the new normal and the brutal reality that it’s going to be here for a while.”
The pair had heard about the proposed government grant for outdoor dining, and figured a platform to help businesses apply for the grant would be a way for them to do their part in helping revive Melbourne’s hospitality industry.
“We know business owners are doing it tough, so we just want to make sure firstly that they’re aware that there’s help, and then it’s about getting as many venues as possible to take advantage of the grant,” says Galak. “The sooner we all get back to what we were doing pre-Covid, the better.”
The platform manages the grant process for businesses and lets venue owners browse items such as chairs, tables, clear barriers and more – all supplied by Victorian businesses.
Business owners pre-order items online, answer some guided questions as part of the grant application process, receive their grants and then get furniture shipped to them. The service is free and designed to save time and stress for venue operators, as well as make it easier to have grant applications approved the first time around.
While Galak is committed to helping as many businesses as he can, like most Melburnians, he’s not entirely sure what the future holds.
“We're pragmatic about the fact that this initiative has a shelf-life, but that's okay. We’re more interested in focusing on how we can help people right now,” he says. “If we meet some great people and find other opportunities to help them or work with them, that's just a bonus.”
Photography: Lucy Donaldson