Four local women are finalists in the inaugural Australian Rural Business Awards.
The awards are presented by Australia's leading online marketplace for regional small businesses Spend With Us to celebrate, highlight and recognise the talent that exists in rural Australia.
They will highlight what small businesses in regional Australia are achieving in business excellence, innovation and sustainability, new business, Australian made and e-commerce.
The founders of Spend With Us have been overwhelmed by the response to the awards and are so excited to see how many businesses have been involved.
"The awards are designed to recognise the strength, resilience, and talent of small business owners in rural and regional areas who have, in the last few years alone, gone through droughts, bushfires, mouse plagues, floods, and lack of tourism and a global pandemic," Donovan and Britz said.
"There is nothing that gives us greater joy than seeing businesses from the bush succeed and to see their passion and determination shine through," they said.
The winners of The Australian Rural Business Awards for 2022 will be announced during an online event tonight from 7.30pm. Melinda Schneider, Australia's favourite singer/songwriter and Jack Delosa from The Entourage are the keynote speakers for the night and tickets are available to everyone to attend.
Maddie Mortimer, Limitless Human: Nominated for the Overcoming the Odds Award
Maddie is an online coach and mentor. Along with her passion for advocating good health, through good nutrition, she also is a passionate NDIS support provider and assists with training local persons with disabilities in a multitude of different facets.
When asked about what the inspiration behind her business, Maddie said, "I want to change people's lives. I know what it is like to be at an all-time low having suffered from extreme anorexia. Health and fitness pulled me through over time. When it comes to wanting to help my NDIS clients, I simply want them to have all the opportunities we have."
Her biggest achievement to date is assisting NDIS clients to participate in the Hell of the West triathlon.
"I had to work hard to foster a relationship of trust with both my clients and their families in order to encourage them to participate in an event that they would have otherwise never been a part of.
"I am passionate about the need for inclusion in our society and felt privileged to have had so many clients come along to participate and feel empowered."
Maddie admitted it could be challenging to be a successful small business in regional Australia and said community played an enormous part. "I believe community plays an enormous part in business success, including the need to build trust and a good reputation in your small business in order to find long-term success," she said.
She said her business, like so many others, faced a hard couple of years navigating the hurdles faced during COVID.
"To come out the other side and be recognised in this way makes me feel like anything is possible when you are committed to working hard for your community. I feel truly humbled," she said.
Benita Bensch: A finalist in the Positive Impact (Making A Difference) Category
Benita is a motherhood coach, certified motherhood studies practitioner, author, speaker and farmer.
Benita helps busy, ambitious mums feeling lost in motherhood reclaim their sense of self and live life by their design.
From rediscovering who you are after kids, managing the daily juggle, finding time to fill your cup, and finding your purpose.... Benita just gets it.
She gets it, because she's been there.... Benita and her husband Adam have four sons and live on and run a mixed cropping and beef cattle farm in conjunction with her family 30km west of Moonie.
Benita offers one-on-one clarity coaching calls, runs a 12-week group coaching program called Illuminate, hosts interactive workshops, and and she shares free content and affirmations through her online community.
While Benita's mission is to support mums to thrive, she is also passionate about the power of vulnerability through storytelling. In 2019 she published her book The Art of Trying: An Intimate Account of My Journey to Conceive, which was the stepping stone to her work with mothers.
"I am very excited, and honoured, to be named as a finalist. My business was also nominated in two other categories but I chose to submit an application for the category that meant the most to me, because making a difference is at the heart of all I do," Benita said.
"A lot of hard work, courage and persistence drives small businesses so it's incredible to see them being acknowledged through the Australian Rural Business Awards and it's a real buzz for me and my team too.
"It's a privilege to be classed amongst my fellow finalists and this sort of encouragement and recognition means a lot for business owners. I'd like to thank Jenn, Sarah and Lauren from Spend With Us - Buy From a Bush Business for founding the awards and offering this opportunity for celebration," she said.
"Adam and I are actually away in Melbourne at the moment for a conference, so I'll be dressing up to attend the awards ceremony virtually in my motel room. What's special is that some of the ladies in my team are flying down for the weekend so we will be watching together, which means even more."
Alex Jackson, Memory Lane Prints: Nominated in the Young Rural Business of the Year and Australian Made Small Business Excellence categories
Alex has a young family, a full time job and runs her small business on the side.
Memory Lane Prints is a service aimed at the busy and time poor families who have thousands of incredible photos but no time to do anything with them to treasure these special memories.
Alex creates high quality professional photo albums and products to last a lifetime and has now helped hundreds of families in a short two years in business.
"These past few years we've had to overcome isolation issues in our businesses by using virtual platforms like Spend With Us. I am so excited to have now sold over 1500 copies of my originally designed baby milestone book which was a little project while I was on maternity leave and chuffed that our book is now sold in retail stores. It has broadened my audience reach and allowed me to provide my services to more and more clients all over Australia and for that I am super grateful," Alex said.
"I was definitely surprised when I heard I was a finalist. I guess you never think of yourself as a worthy business to stand alongside some of these amazing rural businesses that are finalists so it's certainly an honour," she said.
"The importance of celebrating small rural businesses after the hard recent years we've had isn't lost on me so I feel very proud of all the finalists.
Alex believes without the support of community small, rural businesses would not exist.
"Knowing the person behind the face of a small business is incredibly powerful. Knowing that every little purchase or interaction you have with a small rural business goes directly to supporting that family and their passions and dreams is incredibly rewarding," she said.
Alex will be hiding away from the kids on Friday to watch the virtual event and cheer on the other local entrants.
Clare Standfast, Windmill House Creative: A finalist in the Service Based Business of the Year Award and Australian Made Small Business Excellence Award
Clare delivers professional copywriting services and courses across websites, blog posts and social media copy to clients.
Since 2019, Windmill House Creative has helped hundreds of successful brands Australia-wide achieve growth and genuine connections by writing effective, customer-focused sales copy across web, print, email marketing and socials.
Clare wrote her first chapter book at eight-years-old, on a week-long road trip to Darwin in the back seat of a Ford F250. Fast forward to the hustle and bustle of university, and she was interviewing celebrities such as ARIA Hall of Fame icon Tina Arena. From the country to the city, she had become a writer.
Since its launch in 2019, WHC has grown countless successful brands Australia-wide by writing effective sales and content copy and crafting iconic promotional campaigns that have stood the test of time.
Clare creates copy that is mutually exclusive with modern branding principles and holistic storytelling. Working out of a space of inclusion, empathy and understanding of daily business operations, Windmill House Creative combines powerful copy with values-based community relations.
Clare posted that she was "feeling incredibly humbled that WHC has been listed amongst some incredible finalists". "Thank you to my clients and peers who've nominated me."
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