What’s the Big Idea? A way to find your ‘busi­ness bestie’

Central and North Rural Weekly - - RURAL WEEKLY - AN­DREA DAVY an­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

A WORK­ING friend­ship forged across 3500km has re­sulted in a na­tional busi­ness and en­tre­pre­neur­ial sum­mit – and all ru­ral women are in­vited.

From March 9–10 Sa­man­tha Meu­rant from Cun­na­mulla in Queens­land and Tori Kopke from Cun­derdin in Western Aus­tralia will host the Big Ideas Ru­ral Vir­tual Sum­mit.

The two young mums have at­tracted a stel­lar line-up of speak­ers, in­clud­ing me­dia mag­nate Mia Freed­man.

Peo­ple can at­tend in per­son, but Sa­man­tha said the dig­i­tal na­ture of the fo­rum meant re­gard­less of post­code, ev­ery­one could tune in.

“We want women to be able to connect from across the coun­try,” she said.

‘The over­ar­ch­ing goal is to show peo­ple you don’t have to be sit­ting in your trac­tor by your­self, or be in the of­fice do­ing the farm books feel­ing iso­lated. You can ac­tu­ally connect with other women and find a busi­ness bestie.”

When it comes to find­ing a ‘busi­ness bestie’, Sa­man­tha found her­self a cracker.

Tori, who lives in the WA wheat­belt, reached out af­ter lis­ten­ing to the pod­cast Sa­man­tah cre­ated, The Ru­ral Com­pass.

United, the pair cre­ated a busi­ness arm of that plat­form, hosted a mini-mar­ket­ing se­ries, and launched the in­au­gu­ral Vir­tual Sum­mit last year.

The duo’s work was all com­pleted on­line and they only met in per­son for the first time just last week.

“We just hit it off, I sup­pose,” Sa­man­tha said.

“As much as you can from 3500km away.

“We are in very sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions – we both have a child we are look­ing af­ter while try­ing to run our busi­nesses.”

Sa­man­tha was raised in Toowoomba and moved to Cun­na­mulla for love.

Liv­ing in town, she works as a pro­fes­sional artist.

She has felt the grow­ing pains of forg­ing a vi­able busi­ness in ru­ral Aus­tralia.

As well as sell­ing her own cre­ations, or be­ing com­mis­sioned to paint, last year she hosted a range of cre­ative work­shops.

“I started the work­shops at the start of last year,” she said.

“They were all around Western Queens­land, some of them were half an hour away, then I went right out to Be­dourie and Birdsville.

“They were so­cial paint­ing work­shops.

“It al­lowed peo­ple to come in off the prop­erty, and let them take their mind off the drought.”

By June last year, Sa­man­tha had hosted more than 30 classes. It was a hefty work­load that en­tailed a whole lot of time on the road.

Af­ter meet­ing in­cred­i­ble ladies at her work­shops, she felt there was a need to share the sto­ries of ru­ral women run­ning busi­nesses in the bush.

She opted to tell these sto­ries through a pod­cast se­ries. The show was an in­stant hit. “My first sea­son had 30,000 down­loads,” she said.

“It was just in­cred­i­ble. It proves there is a de­mand for these types of sto­ries.”

In that sense, the vir­tual sum­mit is an ex­ten­sion of her over­ar­ch­ing vi­sion to make ru­ral busi­ness­women feel less iso­lated.

Snag­ging Mia Freed­man as a speaker wasn’t too dif­fi­cult, she said.

“There was a lit­tle to-and-fro or­gan­is­ing it with her as­sis­tant,” she said.

“She is do­nat­ing her time to do a Q and A with us. It will be re­ally in­ter­est­ing.”

Ms Freed­man said she was thrilled to be in­volved in the Big Ideas Ru­ral Vir­tual Sum­mit.

“I want to sup­port those in ru­ral and re­mote Aus­tralia who have been suf­fer­ing from the on­go­ing drought. They’re fac­ing the ev­ery­day pres­sures of life, but with ad­di­tional ex­ter­nal fac­tors beyond their con­trol. I am thrilled to sup­port an event that will sup­port this in­cred­i­bly re­silient group of women,” she said.

Ju­lia Spicer of En­gage and Cre­ate Con­sult­ing, Kris­ten Car­riol of Lano­lips, Lisa Smith, and Cather­ine Ngo of Keynote­worthey, will also speak at the event.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

STEP­PING UP: The Big Ideas Ru­ral founder Sa­man­tha Meu­rant from Cun­na­mulla, Qld.

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