‘Xero Day’ Announcement: $600K Cash Awards for Small Businesses in Canada, Other Countries

By: Lee Rickwood

August 25, 2023

Canadian small businesses will be supported in their aspirations for the future with cash awards from a unique new contest created by Xero, the global small business platform provider.

Called the Beautiful Business Fund, the newly-launched contest will reward small business as much for their plans for the future as their past behaviours, described Faye Pang, Xero Canada Country Manager, in conversation with WhatsYourTech.ca.

smiling woman seated at desk with coffee cup and laptop computer visible

Faye Pang, Xero Canada Country Manager

“We want to not only celebrate small businesses, we want to empower success and accelerate growth. This is about giving them a jump start,” Pang describes. “We’ve heard time and time again, through our research and conversations with partners, that small business owners have a clear sense of where they want to go, but it’s just that they have so many things on their plate – ‘I have clients in front of me today’; ‘I have to get this week’s payroll out’ – that aspirations can sometimes fall to the bottom of the to-do list. We want to help get those items back at the top of the list.”

With more than CAD $600,000 in funding available in Canada, and globally, there seems plenty of fuel for the fire driving many small business owners.

Pang says Xero wants to help them work on their business, not just in their business. As such, the contest reflects the possible growth areas and potential aspirations of many small businesses.

Applicants to the Xero Beautiful Business Fund can apply in four unique judging categories: Innovating for Sustainability, Trailblazing with Technology, Strengthening Community Connection, and Upskilling for the Future. Xero software users and clients of Xero accounting and bookkeeping partners are eligible.

screen grab of Xero accounting software

Xero’s small business software includes its core accounting solution and tools for payroll, workforce, expense, and project management.

Xero’s small business platform has nearly four million subscribers to its core accounting solution and tools for payroll, workforce, expense, and project management. The company also has an extensive ecosystem of connected apps and connections to banks and other financial institutions to help owners run their business and manage their finances.

The launch of the fund and the opening of the application process came August 23, on what’s known at the company as Xero Day, a celebratory and somewhat cheeky self-referential nod both to the company’s birthday, 17 years ago, and the opening day of its annual users’ conference, XeroCon, this year held in Sydney, Australia (and previously in North America and the U.K.).

Canada is one of seven global regions from which winners will be selected; regional judges will select winners for each category, and those winners will then be evaluated by a global judging panel, with one winner from each category receiving an additional global prize.

Not only are the categories unique, but so too the entry process. Yes, there’s a brief written form to complete, but entrants are asked to submit a 90-second pitch video for as many categories as they see fit.

Faye Pang says the four categories are very reflective of Xero values as an organization, with their clear focus on what will help define success for small businesses in the future.

Innovating for sustainability is for small businesses that want to move to a more ecofriendly profile, whether through sustainable packaging, or implementing energy-efficient equipment or using carbon neutral transport. “The sustainability journey is one we know many small businesses want to take.”

Trailblazing with technology is for small businesses seeking to digitalize parts of their operation or integrate emerging technologies. “We are a tech company, founded in the cloud,” Pang explains. “So of course, tech is something we very much value, and we support the tech trailblazers.”

Strengthening community connection speaks to those SMBs that give back to their communities, and the category will honour companies that contribute to philanthropy, social good, or make an impact on the community in a meaningful way.  “Our fundamental belief is that vibrant thriving small businesses contribute to vibrant thriving communities, in which we all live and work and play,” she notes. “They can bring so many benefits beyond the company.”

Upskilling for the future is for small businesses seeking to support upskilling for themselves or their employees, such as training and other professional development opportunities. “We know our customers are really thinking about their people, how to attract and keep the best employees. SMBs are looking at ways to grow their company and their teams.”

As Country Manager here, Faye is responsible for expanding Xero’s business in Canada, and her over 15 years’ experience growing businesses across a range of industries, including consumer packaged goods and disruptive technology, bodes well for the that task and may well have helped identify “several amazing judges to help us sift through all the submissions” to the Beautiful Business Fund. They represent a good cross-section of Xero SMBs users and industry partners from the accounting and bookkeeping side, the app partners and others with relevant experience and track record.

Contest criteria and details are posted on the Xero website. Xero users, and clients of Xero accountant and bookkeeping partners, are eligible. Submissions will be accepted until October 6, 2023. Winners will be announced later this year.

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Xero corporate logo superimposed on aerial city scene

A screen grab from the Xero Beautiful Business Fund launch video. The video features CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy as she explains the motivations and details behind a new contest to fund small businesses. Cassidy is an accomplished technology executive and entrepreneur; she has a Bachelor’s degree in Arts (Honours), Business Administration & Management from Western University in Ontario.


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