Australia Post has kicked off its annual Local Business Heroes program, which has been expanded to support 100 small online Australian businesses – up from 57 businesses in 2022 – sharing in a total prize pool valued at around $500,000.

Successful applicants will each receive a Heroes Package worth $5,000 packed with a selection of support, products and services to help them grow and market their business.

Australia Post executive general manager of parcel post and ecommerce services, Gary Starr believes this year’s prize pool of around $500,000 would provide critical support as small businesses contend with a range of headwinds.

“Small businesses are the beating heart of our local economy and we’re proud to support them grow and prosper through the Local Business Heroes program,” he said.

“The Local Business Heroes program not only shines a spotlight on these important operators, but importantly helps them succeed through coaching, marketing and technology support. We’re thrilled to be able to increase the number of recipients so that we can reward more businesses for the amazing work they do day in, day out and help them navigate 2023.”

One of last year’s winners was wooden toy retailer Cool Guppy, which benefited from increased awareness and a range of practical business support to continue to grow.

“It was incredible to receive the recognition last year and I felt a great sense of pride being one of the winners. The initiative was a wonderful motivator to ensure I continued to believe and work hard in my business,” Cool Guppy owner, Adrian Law (pictured) said.

Australia Post has reimagined the Heroes Package this year, offering winners the choice of five options out of a total of eight. The eight options sit within four key categories: marketing, sending (packaging and postage), staying connected and business coaching.

Small businesses can apply at until Sunday 12 March 2023.

Applications are open to all small businesses, selling products online, and are an existing customer of Australia Post. Recipients are selected by Australia Post and will be notified by both email and phone on 19 June 2023.