The tote bags are made out of 100 per cent organic cotton. The proceeds go to a grant program, which aims to help small businesses affected by COVID-19. (Susie Gay)

The tote bags are made out of 100 per cent organic cotton. The proceeds go to a grant program, which aims to help small businesses affected by COVID-19. (Susie Gay)

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

An Okanagan-based initiative that launched in late April is ready to help small businesses.

‘This Bag Helps’ was launched by Susie and Bryan Gay, owners of Penticton Paddle Surf and Antlers Surf.

The first step of the initiative was to sell organic reusable tote bags so they can raise funds for a grant program, aimed at helping small businesses around the province and the country.

With the overwhelming support of the community, Susie said the program is now ready to take in applications from businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve raised close to $8,000 so far, but every day, it just keeps building and growing,” she said.

“I’m just super encouraged, thankful and I feel supported.”

Susie said the feedback has been positive all throughout, from people ordering bags in bulk, spreading the word about the initiative through social media, and leaving them positive comments.

She said thanks to social media, there have been orders not just from the Okanagan, but all the way up to the Kootenays and even across Canada as well.

“People from out east have started to buy bags. We’ve even had some businesses out east apply (for the grant program),” she said.

“GoDaddy, based in the U.S., actually ordered bags from us for their employees, so we have our first international order, which is really cool.”

Susie added they have also launched a sponsorship program, where businesses can sponsor grants either by donating money or buying enough bags to cover the grant costs. The sponsor businesses can choose the industry or location of the business that they want to receive the grant.

“I had a call from Kootenay Insurance, and they wanted to support the cause. They’re buying 50 bags to give out to their small business clients.”

“I recognize we can’t cover months of rent… but reopening has so many costs attached to it. There are PPE requirements and businesses are having to build infrastructure to promote distancing. Opening safely is requiring so much from businesses and we want to help,” she said.

The initiative’s tote bags are 100 per cent designed, made, and printed in Canada. Susie this is so they can support small businesses in every aspect of the process.

READ: Okanagan couple launches initiative to help small businesses during COVID-19

READ: BOYD Autobody and Glass aims to raise $50,000 for Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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