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Professor Retha Wiesner
Professor Retha Wiesner and her team have spent the past six months touring and working in regional Queensland, helping women create businesses and pursue their own initiatives.

WiRE (Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Enterprises) is designed to empower female entrepreneurs who wish to achieve their start-up dreams and/or grow their business or community ventures without leaving rural parts of the country.

Now, Professor Wiesner’s entrepreneurship capacity building sessions have attracted acclaim from the CSIRO, named the Toowoomba winner of the ON Prime Facilitator’s Award.

ON Prime is a unique awards program designed to recognise and reward true excellence in bringing together individuals and groups to encourage hands-on, practical learning and business model development.

Professor Wiesner said it was a rigorous but rewarding process.

“What helped was the existing intensive analysis of the project and its outcomes gathered during the WiRE regional innovation popups across Queensland,” she said.

“During that time, we’ve spoken with hundreds of program participants to understand their learning needs and the capacities they wish to build. That’s allowed us to develop our program to ensure it meets the needs of women in regional areas.”

WiRE is a collaboration between USQ Research’s Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development (ACSBD), Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN), Start-up Toowoomba and Fire Station 101 Innovation Centre.

It aims to promote entrepreneurship through enhancing individual and organisational awareness, participation, skills, entrepreneurial behaviour, competencies and capacity, through building support networks and sharing knowledge.

“We are bringing together USQ’s expertise to focus on, and develop, enterprise – nurturing and empowering community-minded entrepreneurs,” Professor Wisner said.

The WiRE program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science through the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Programme.

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