What’s the Big Idea? A way to find your ‘business bestie’
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.
STEPPING UP: The Big Ideas Rural founder Samantha Meurant from Cunnamulla, Qld.