Facebook has revealed it is committing $1 million to Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE powered by Google initiative, a program aimed to help 50,000 local businesses build and optimize their stores online amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s more important than ever in helping bring businesses of all types online.”
Facebook had previously announced its involvement with ShopHERE, specifically that it would be providing ad credits to businesses that sign on to the program. Chris Rickett, the City of Toronto’s director of COVID-19 business mitigation and recovery, told BetaKit Facebook’s previous commitment was made while ShopHERE was only a City of Toronto initiative.
Rickett added that this new $1 million commitment is meant to support the program’s national expansion, which was announced last month.
“Facebook’s expanded commitment to the ShopHERE program is just another illustration of the tech community understanding the importance of supporting main street businesses and artists during this crisis,” Rickett told BetaKit. “They have been a great partner in Toronto with the program and we are looking forward to continuing that work across Canada with their team.”
Facebook is among a number of large tech firms, including Shopify, Google, and Microsoft, supporting the Digital Main Street program. ShopHERE, launched last month, was initially focused on building online storefronts for local independent businesses and artists in Toronto.
After Google Canada committed $1 million to the initiative, ShopHERE went national with a goal to set up 50,000 online stores across the country. Rickett told BetaKit 2,275 stores are currently either under development or have launched through the ShopHERE initiative.
In addition to its Digital Main Street partnership, Facebook is also launching a new initiative called Summer of Support, aimed to help business owners hone their digital skills and receive information in order to navigate the current crisis.
The program, which launched Wednesday and will run for six weeks, features content including free online training, live sessions, and topics such as reimagining customer service and going from brick-and-mortar to digital.
“As businesses continue to adjust during these times, it’s more important than ever in helping bring businesses of all types online to help them engage and serve customers,” Facebook said in a statement.
Each week of Summer of Support will focus on a different theme and highlight different speakers, some of which include retired professional basketball player and entrepreneur Magic Johnson and chairman of O’Shares Investments, Kevin O’Leary.
In May, Facebook Canada announced it would offer $3.5 million in grants, virtual training programs, and product features aimed to support Canadian small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that commitment, the social media giant launched Boost, a free virtual training series aimed to help reduce the hurdles businesses face when going online.
Facebook also partnered with Shopify last month to launch a free e-commerce tool allowing merchants to create customized online storefronts for Facebook and Instagram.
In addition to its ShopHere commitment and Summer of Support initiative, Facebook is also launching the Facebook Online Business Guide, a new resource to help small businesses move their business online, get discovered online and grow their online sales.
Image source Unsplash. Photo by rupixen.com.