eBay has launched a multi-million-pound programme to create jobs and opportunities in parts of the UK that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The online marketplace’s ‘eBay for Change’ initiative will offer training and financial support to small, community-based businesses that support disadvantaged areas across Britain.

The etailer will create a dedicated ‘eBay for Change’ hub on its UK website, allowing shoppers to easily find small businesses that reinvest their profits back into their communities, either in Britain or overseas.

Dozens of businesses will start trading on the hub, but eBay expects that number to grow “significantly” as it ramps up the programme.

eBay said: “Every purchase from this hub will have a direct positive impact on supporting disadvantaged communities – whether that’s providing job or training opportunities to people with a physical or learning disability or tackling social problems like homelessness, exclusion or abandoned children, improving people’s life chances, or helping the environment.”

Social mobility campaign logo

The move comes in the midst of Retail Week’s own No Limits campaign, designed to champion the role of social mobility across the sector and encourage businesses to provide opportunities to people from underprivileged backgrounds.

eBay has partnered with Social Enterprise UK and the World Fair Trade Organization to deliver its new programme, which will offer digital skills training and marketing investments to social enterprises.

The online giant said the scheme would impact “thousands of jobs and livelihoods” during the next three years.

Chris Gale, head of social impact at eBay UK, said: “While the pandemic hasn’t created the levels of inequality that we see in society, it has certainly exacerbated them both socially and economically. We want to be a part of changing that and building a fairer and ultimately more sustainable economy.

“We believe that business can be a force for positive change and social enterprises are the living and breathing example of how this can be achieved.”

Gale added: “Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of where they choose to spend their money, whether it’s supporting small businesses or charities. With ‘eBay for Change’, customers will receive a great product, as well as the satisfaction that the proceeds from their purchase will make a real difference and support communities.”

In addition to its ‘eBay for Change’ programme, the pureplay has also partnered with UnLtd, a firm that offers support to social entrepreneurs to help them develop their businesses.

eBay and UnLtd will establish a dedicated social enterprise ecommerce start-up programme for early-stage social entrepreneurs across the UK. It aims to work with at least 100 social entrepreneurs in the first year of the partnership alone, offering training, coaching and financial support to help them grow their businesses and positively impact their communities.