Faces of the Wheatbelt - Wheatbelt Business Network
December 19, 2017 at 3:36 PM
Connect and grow through the Wheatbelt Business Network
Like a high yielding, healthy wheat crop, a profitable healthy business needs the right inputs to grow.
The Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) sets out to grow all Wheatbelt businesses, as Executive Officer Caroline Robinson explains. “We know our members and we know how best to connect them,” she says. “We provide advocacy, along with procurement and business advice.”
The team behind the not for profit organisation are volunteers with two administration staff now on board. All operating their own Wheatbelt businesses, as well as working for the WBN, they understand the highs and lows of operating profitable businesses from a country location. They fully appreciate the difficulties accessing adequate telecommunications, working in isolation and other hurdles that are unique to doing business in the regions.
The WBN Chair is Yerecoin Traders’ managing partner, Amanda Walker, who is as equally passionate about the role the Network plays as Caroline. “We link businesses locally to each other; but also give them a collective voice on a broader scale. We are not just about one town, we are about building a sustainable Wheatbelt economy.” said Amanda.
Having created the WBN in 2010 through her own first-hand experience of running a business in isolation some 80 kilometres east of Narembeen, Caroline says the WBN aims to work with local governments and businesses across 42 Wheatbelt Shires.
The WBN offers networking opportunities at social events with guest speakers and a raft of other business support including up-to-date news, education and training. It has also successfully delivered specific support business women including the recent WE Shine event held at Wyening Mission, near Bolgart and WE Connect, a mentoring program for Wheatbelt women in business.
The WBN supports businesses in towns with no active business group and works alongside many Chambers of Commerce in a complementary fashion. It also hosts the Wheatbelt Business Excellence Awards recognising the best of the best in business across an area of the WA countryside the size of Tasmania.
“We can also help with the tender documents and connect the big players to the local service providers,” Caroline says. This support was vital to the Central East Aged Care Alliance Inc (CEACA) project which will develop 75 Aged Care units across 12 Wheatbelt towns.
The WBN provides a link between local and state governments, and rural and regional businesses, playing an active role in influencing policy making and they are keen to see even more collaboration in the future. “The State Government should be aware of what we do and realise our reach – we are connected ‘on the ground’ to a large number of Wheatbelt businesses.”
Caroline is now busy coordinating a Digital Solutions Summit to be delivered in early 2018. She is the first to admit how difficult it is to juggle her own consulting business, her family, her and her husband's farming operation and her role as Executive Officer. "We are all about trying to help businesses to see why they need to connect and how to solve common issues and common problems while looking beyond the town they operate in to improve our region's economic development." Caroline says.
If you haven't done so already, it may be time to look up the WBN to see how it can help your business.