The Rural Business Collective is encouraging entrepreneurship in the bush. 

Story Amanda Burdon  Photo Claire Dunn

Fleur Anderson knows from personal experience that to survive in business in the bush you need to be creative – and connected. She established her own enterprise – the Rural Business Collective (RBC) – with the help of crowdfunding and has relied on an extensive network to give it wings.

“It can be daunting trying to get a small business up on your own in a small country town,” says the dynamic cotton farmer and mother-of-two from Theodore in western Queensland. “There are many physical and mental hurdles, and you don’t need many excuses to talk yourself out of it.”

Fleur had been thinking about establishing a collective to support enterprising rural entrepreneurs for a year before success in the ING Dreamstarter program forced her hand. “I then had just two weeks to organise a crowdfunding campaign and 30 days to raise $28,000 in capital,” she says. “That was the ultimate test, to convince people to invest in my idea. But it gave me the confidence to march strongly forward.”

Now, through the RBC, Fleur is helping other far-flung businesspeople to take similar bold strides. People such as Bec and Rob Lomman, who last year took over a fruit and vegetable shop in St George, Qld; and Ainsley McArthur, who is developing a virtual reality day-in-the-life of a country kid experience.

Bec and Rob turned to the RBC to ease the isolation of running a small business in a small town. “The RBC gives us a group of likeminded people to connect with, and access to information and resources relevant to our rural setting, at times that suit us,” says Bec, a former corporate banking executive who has transformed the shop (Seed and Sprout) to stock locally grown and seasonal produce. “It’s wonderful knowing that we are not alone and that there are other people out there like us.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #113

Outback Magazine: June/July 2017