The Midwest community will benefit from the activities of thirteen stronger, smarter social ventures that will graduate from Pollinators’ Catalyst program this Friday 6th December.
Catalyst is a 4-month, 7-session training program that accelerates the growth of ‘social ventures’ — innovative projects and organisations whose prioritise community benefit over personal profit. The program is in its second year and is unique in Australia for its regional focus, its emphasis on the long-term financial and social sustainability of the ventures, and a community-supported approach that utilises a mix of experienced mentors, expert coaches and a peer networks to grow ‘good’ ideas. Friday’s event will be an opportunity for participants to reflect on their learnings, thank their mentors and coaches, and plan the next steps for their ventures. Participants or ‘Cats’ as they are known, will share a one minute ‘pitch’ summarising what they’ve learned through the program.
One of the most high impact and intense training sessions was “Growing Good” where participants refined their projects, then pitched their ideas and ventures to a panel of local investors and mentors. As well as constructive feedback and contacts, the panel and audience also voted for the best pitch which won a $500 cash prize thanks to Geraldton Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank. The ‘best pitch’ and ‘best idea’ was awarded to Wendy Burr from Flexitext, an ‘app’ in development which enables Indigenous students to read and write English, Wajarri and Aboriginal English to maintain their cultural heritage and language.
Jenna Brooker from Friends of Chapman River Wildlife Corridor wrote of the penultimate Catalyst session: “Yesterday was a great day – it was good to hear so many pitches and to hear from such an assortment of experts. I was struck by the compassion and sensitivity of the panel members.”
Julian Canny from Comedy Emporium was equally enthusiastic about the program “What a fantastic session last night! Thank you again for getting together a brilliant training session and fantastic opportunity to put our pitches into practice. This Catalyst course has been an absolute pleasure. Five stars!“.
Some of the other exceptional ventures that have benefitted and grown through Catalyst in 2013 include:
- Fast and Female Australia — Supporting, inspiring and empowering girls aged 9 to 19 to stick to sports and a healthy lifestyle through innovative events led by world-class female athletes,
- It’s All Sorted — Running a series of community events that both support local micro-enterprises and raises money for local charities,
- Geraldton RunFest — Annual festival of running that has generated huge interest locally, and in other towns,
- Community Kitchen — A fresh, food-focused approach to building community and helping those most in need through making healthy food in a public kitchen, and
- 6 other equally valuable (and interesting) projects.
Pollinators Executive Officer, Andrew Outhwaite said “Having Catalyst to support these sorts of social ventures are so important, because without this sort of support, good ideas remain unrealised, good people leave town, good community visions remain unrealised and good communities don’t grow. While this sort of world-class program is normally limited to capital cities and high-growth commercial ventures our generous mentors, funders and sponsors make this available to those social entrepreneurs who really do want to ‘change the world’.” The value of Catalyst and Pollinators model for growing innovations and entrepreneurs in regional Australia has been recognised by the City of Greater Geraldton and Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited who have both been a funders and sponsors for the past two years.
Over the course of the four months, the ‘Cats’ have refined, developed and shared their ideas through sessions that included:
- Presentations and panel discussions from local social entrepreneurs and enterprises such as Apprentice and Traineeship Company, Hit Nitz 4 6, Bendigo Bank and Leaning Tree Community School,
- Training from leading experts in enterprise growth and development such as Tom Tolchard (Future Proof), Jane Garrett (Global Composition), Sam Birmingham (CoderDojo) and Rachael West (Strategic Creativity),
- Mentoring from local experts from Midwest NEIS, Lifetime Services, Mitchell and Brown, Greeve and Associates, Social Dimensions and the City of Greater Geraldton,
- Peer coaching through facilitated ‘action-learning’ sessions,
- Individual coaching from the Pollinators team.
Catalyst will run again in 2014 and Expressions of Interest in sponsorship, participation or mentoring should be directed to Andrew Outhwaite, Executive Officer of Pollinators Inc: 0466694702 firstname.lastname@example.org Andrew can provide further details of the program, participants and their ventures for any media stories.