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Posted: January 26, 2022

Free supports for rural businesses looking to expand

Business owners in rural and Indigenous communities can now access free expert advice and resources as they recover from the pandemic through the province’s Export Navigator program.

Since 2016, Export Navigator has helped more than 700 B.C. businesses export their products across Canada and internationally. Export Navigator advisers help small business owners identify new market opportunities, provide referrals to provincial and federal services, funding and business connections and offer logistical, customs and financing support.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, advisers have expanded their areas of support to include online sales development, crisis business planning and helping owners access provincial and federal COVID-19 business supports, outlined a Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation media release.

There are nine Export Navigator advisers who offer expert advice. Their clients are businesses owned by Indigenous Peoples and by women and youth, and business owners in these regions: Kootenay Boundary; Vancouver Island North; Vancouver Island South; the Cariboo; Thompson-Okanagan; Pacific Northwest; and Northeast.

“The pandemic and recent extreme weather events have presented incredible challenges for business owners. To assist with recovery efforts, our government is providing them with opportunities to expand their business in new ways,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Export Navigator is a great tool that helps small businesses dream big and export their made-in-B.C. goods around the world.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada added: “Export Navigator provides a much-needed and inclusive support network for B.C. businesses looking to reach new customers and capitalize on global opportunities, which, in turn, will increase Canada’s competitiveness and create new jobs across the province.”

George Chow, B.C.’s Minister of State for Trade said, “Export Navigator is one way we’re helping small business owners capitalize on what makes them special so they can reach new markets beyond our borders.”

The Export Navigator program is managed by the province in partnership with Pacific Economic Development Canada and delivered through Small Business BC and Community Futures.

Since 2019, the province has provided $3.6 million and the Pacific Economic Development Canada has provided $2.25 million for the program.

B.C. has more small businesses per capita than anywhere else in Canada. Small businesses employ more than 1.1 million people, accounting for 53% of the province’s private-sector employment.

Exports play a fundamental role in driving economic growth and creating jobs. They account for more than 60% of Canada’s gross domestic product, and countrywide, are responsible for one in five jobs.


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