Advancing women in rural, regional and remote enterprises

Women in rural, regional and remote communities have fewer employment opportunities compared to their city cousins. They might have great ideas but many do not know how to execute them to turn that idea into a business. While almost half of new business ventures in Australia are founded outside the metropolitan areas, less than 3 per cent of those are by women.

Women outside cities face significant barriers when it comes to business or venture development, however, rural women are often hidden economic drivers in rural communities. Many women are looking to establish a business or expand an existing business but struggle to validate their ideas/products/services, access venture capital, develop supportive networks or enhance their business acumen.

USQ’s Institute for Resilient Regions recognised the need and created a research and capacity building program to advance women in rural, regional and remote enterprises.

'A successful venture is not a fairytale. All you need is a seed and the right fertiliser.' Professsor Retha Wiesner, Program Leader.

Professor Retha Wiesner, founded and developed a unique cutting edge award winning business program, The WiRE (Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Enterprises) Program. The program was co-created with over 300 women in rural and regional Queensland, and integrates academic research, emerging and entrepreneurial trends to help, enable and guide the start-up and growth of women owned businesses and community ventures. More than 2000 women have been directly involved in WIRE with participants crediting the program to major changes in their leadership and business skills.

Participants are offered a range of support with additional assistance given when the business progresses to growth and scaling up. The activities are designed and conducted with rural women and focus on:

  • developing women’s skills such as virtual and face-to-face workshops and webinars
  • business development and support such as business bootcamps, 90-day challenges and coaching sessions
  • connection to peer networks and mentors such as engagement and networking events
  • showcasing success such as case studies and research events.
Given that one third of Australian women live in rural and regional areas, the WIRE program filled a pressing need. Improving opportunities for women to develop their business skills and leadership will help them to fully participate in rural economies, strengthen their financial position and fulfil their interests and goals. 

The 'dream' is for the WIRE program to spread its wings beyond Queensland, and for 10,000 women in rural, regional and remote Australia to be able to create new businesses thanks to the impacts of the WIRE program.

'WIRE connected me with other rural women entrepreneurs who were facing the same challenges as me, helping me feel less isolated and more likely to persist with finding solutions to overcome obstacles in the development of my business.'
Emma Taylor, Roma

WIRE's newest project, 'Reset and re-imagine your business' is designed to help women to reset and re-imagine their business in view of the current and future challenges as a result of COVID-19.

These abilities and skills can be developed and are essential for a range of workers on farm and through the supply chain. In turn, this supports businesses to continually adapt and adopt new ways of working, or to craft new roles to create the future of work. And it has all come about from a unique mix, a consortium between university, business, government and community organisations.

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Phone +61 7 3740 4091 
Email  irr@usq.edu.au 
Twitter  @Resilience_USQ