We're excited to share with you our strategic vision for revitalising the region we live in, the Mallee. The strategy includes:
Y-Commerce - training young people to manage digital marketing for local businesses
A Code Club to teach computer skills for the jobs of the future
An entrepreneurship program to guide and spark new business creation
An online marketplace with local products supporting local businesses
Free services for community groups and youth
An innovation hub with emerging tech and learning/workspace
Mentoring early-stage entrepreneurs and businesses
Building capacity through workshops and events
Our vision is outlined in full below. We'd love to hear your feedback and ideas.
"Y-Commerce" (or Young Commerce) is our most ambitious and exciting initiative to date! It's will also require a lot of development time and money.
The situation today
Fact - online shopping has disrupted traditional retail with devastating results (more empty shops and many who remain open are struggling).
Fact - many small businesses are falling behind in digital literacy and do not benefit from the opportunities presented by the digital economy.
Fact - there is little to no meaningful support for small businesses provided by local, state or federal levels of government.
Fact - we are surrounded by young people who are comfortable with digital technology ("digital natives")
Fact - young people as a resource have been largely untapped by business.
The Solution is "Y-Commerce" - Mallee Rising will develop young people to acquire key digital business skills and match them with small businesses wanting help to grow in the digital economy.
Small businesses will reach new customers, in potentially new markets, through social media, e-commerce and the digital economy at a price they can afford, improving their chances of long term financial sustainability.
There will be a slowdown, and perhaps a reversal, or empty shops in regional and suburban town centres, leading to increased livability and vibrancy in communities.
It will provide an income stream for young people.
Young people will become exposed to working with small business and learn the "enterprise skills" valued by employers.
Through the acquisition of these enterprise skills a pathway will be created for young entrepreneurs to start their own innovative, digital businesses.
Young people and their networks of friends, through their exposure to local businesses, will better understand the pressures faced by small business and may become more inclined to buy local and boost local economies.
Status and next steps
Y-Commerce is currently under development and subject to funding
We will conduct a small pilot in 2019 (location to be determined) and scale pending funding and resources
Early discussions with the Youth Support Team at Swan Hill Rural City Council were very positive.
Working with new local IT provider BGR Development, Mallee Rising is launching CODE THE MALLEE, a code club to bring together people of all ages to learn computer programming languages.
These skills for the jobs of the future will open up all kinds of career pathways and opportunities for people of all ages across the Mallee. It will also feed into our Y-Commerce strategy (see above) and provide a talent pool of skilled young people to drive growth and innovation in regional businesses.
Developing entrepreneurs and sparking new businesses
You've probably heard of Shark Tank. Maybe even Dragons Den. Let's call this the Ant Nest :-)
Mallee Rising is designing an entrepreneurship program to help budding entrepreneurs understand the steps to turn an idea into a business. From a business plan, through to financials, pricing, branding and growth strategies.
We will begin with a pilot program for school age children before introducing a program open to all ages.
An online marketplace supporting local business
Online shopping has disrupted traditional retail in a major way and with devastating effects: more and more shops are closing while Australia Post's delivery vans are busy delivering more and more parcels to people in our region daily.
At the moment, every dollar spent online is effectively a dollar leaving our region and our communities.
People shop online because it is easy, convenient (24/7) and perceived to be cheaper (not always the case).
But what if we were to create an online marketplace (like an Amazon or Farmhouse Direct) that made it very easy for local businesses to have a virtual shopfront and product listings while also satisfying consumers' desire for ease and convenience?
With the working title MADE IN THE MALLEE, our concept for a regional online marketplace would connect the best elements of online shopping (ease, convenience, search tools) with the best features of buying local (click and collect, a physical store to try items or exchange/return) and the best outcomes for local communities (money spent online goes into the pockets of local businesses who in turn spend their money locally and it stays and circulates in local communities).
If the solution was easy someone would have already done it and we'd be using it. It will require a seismic shift in consumer attitudes towards buying online and supporting local economies but we believe we could move the dial slightly and influence a percentage of the population to change habits if they understand that they can still have the convenience of buying online, often at great prices, while also supporting the community they live in.
How will it work? While there are many unknowns, we know we will able to draw upon the talent pool from our Y-Commerce and Code Club initiatives to develop and maintain the marketplace and support businesses to get started.
Free support for community groups and youth
Volunteers and community groups play a vital role in regional communities. Young people are our region's future.
We're pleased to announce:
young people (school age) can use Mallee Rising for free to work on their business.
volunteers can use Mallee Rising for free when doing work for a community group.
We have set aside 2 spots at all digital skills workshops for volunteers representing a community group to come and learn for free.
Young people in our Y-Commerce program will have free access to workshops.
As a social enterprise we're committed to creating positive economic, social and environmental impact in our community - these are some examples of the social benefit we create.
This offer is available until 31 December 2019. Conditions apply and offer is subject to the availability of space.
An innovation hub for emerging tech and learning
Our strategic initiatives will one day be housed in a new innovation hub.
The hub will:
allow the community to experience emerging technologies (VR, blockchain...) and understand their practical applications in business and daily life.
provide a vibrant and collaborative work and learning environment.
incubate and accelerate innovation and businesses, including in the ag-tech and food and fibre space - domains where the Mallee as a food bowl should leverage its natural advantages.
Have a mentor by your side
Starting a new business should be an exciting time but it can also be a lonely experience and the first few years can be a rocky road.
Our mentoring service supports entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey, even established businesses. We've had many people benefit since launching the service in early 2018 and we will reinforce it going forward.
Mentoring can be done in-person or using online meeting tools like Skype and Zoom.
Building capacity through workshops and events
Since opening in June 2017 we have provided over 100 workshops with many hundreds of people benefiting from these learning opportunities. We also travel around the region and run workshops in community resource centres in smaller townships.
This is part of our commitment to building capacity in our region and its people. And by building capacity we're creating opportunities for growth.