Release type: Media Release


Leading entrepreneurs partner to help small businesses go digital


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education
Senator for Western Australia

The Liberal National Government today announced that Australia’s small businesses will have the opportunity to be part of a nationwide mentoring program to transform and grow their business through improving their digital capability.

Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, today announced the Liberal National Government’s Small Business Digital Champions Project, that will create relatable, real-time case studies to inspire and inform small business owners across Australia about how to go digital.

100 small businesses from diverse sectors across Australia will be chosen to receive a digital transformation valued at up to $20,000. This will include the hardware, software and digital skills training required for them to thrive in their particular field.

Fifteen of these businesses will be selected to become a ‘Digital Champion’ – to undergo their transformation in the public spotlight, with the mentoring assistance of high profile Australian entrepreneurs including:

  • Larry Kestelman – founder of Dodo internet, lead investor in technology start-up incubator Oxygen Ventures, chairman of Frankly Digital Marketing agency and owner of the National Basketball League.
  • Dr Sam Prince – founder of hospitality chain Zambrero, founder of aid organisation One Disease and medical group Next Practice.
  • Michelle Bridges – fitness trainer and founder of the online 12WBT Program.

Minister Cash said the project was part of the Government’s elevation of small business as a key economic contributor, and an important acknowledgement of the productivity gains offered by digital technology.

"Australia’s small business sector represents 99 per cent of all business in Australia and employs 5.7 million Australians.

"Research from Deloitte found that small and medium enterprises with higher levels of digital engagement are 50 per cent more likely to be growing revenue, eight times more likely to be creating jobs, seven times more likely to be exporting or engaging in new markets and 14 times more likely to be innovating new products and services.

"The Liberal National Government is committed to ensuring that our small businesses have all the support they need to be able to grow and prosper and employ more Australians, and that includes helping them go digital so they can fulfil their true potential in the modern economy.

"We are delighted to announce these high-profile mentors as part of this project, who will guide our 15 ‘Digital Champion’ small businesses from different sectors across the economy."

Larry Kestelman said he was excited to partner with the Coalition on the initiative.

"Small business in Australia has so much potential to grow and change lives through adopting technology. We have nurtured many small businesses including Saisei and ECAL through my own start-up incubator Oxygen Ventures to use digital to grow revenue," he said.

"Meanwhile leveraging upon the resources and expertise of our digital marketing agency Frankly Marketing to transform the National Basketball League through using online entertainment and e-commerce platforms. I look forward to working with other small businesses to help them replicate this success."

Dr Sam Prince said: "As a medical doctor and entrepreneur, I believe that mentorship has a powerful role to play in developing, empowering and strategically growing people and business. If I am to wear my medical hat, being a doctor has taught me the craft of mentorship through our philosophy of ‘See One, Do One, Teach One’ in which you cannot truly master the medical speciality until you can teach it effectively. I see mentorship as a way to give back philanthropically to fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners."

Small businesses across the country will be able to follow the 12 month digital transformation of the Digital Champions, learning as they learn, and gaining the confidence and understanding they need to make these tools work for them, and their own business.

As part of the project, funding will be made available for industry associations to engage a ‘Trusted Digital Adviser’ to provide sector specific advice to their membership across Australia including their relevant Digital Champion.

The Digital Champions’ business upgrade will be boosted by expertise and resources contributed by a range of corporate partners, including Facebook and Google.

Minister Cash acknowledged the important role the findings of Mark Bouris AM’s Small Business Digital Taskforce Report played in informing the initiative. The Small Business Digital Champions Project is part of the Australian Government’s Helping Small Business Grow package.

The project will formally commence in early 2019.

For more information and to register your interest in being a Digital Champion, a Digital Mentor, or a corporate partner visit: