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Entrepreneurship, philanthropy and why doing good stuff makes sense, to everyone, and every business.

If you read this piece and are wondering why philanthropy must go hand in hand with entrepreneurship, business and your social footprint (always), in whatever format works for you, I wanted to share what some of the most EXTRAORDINARY people I know have helped me achieve in the last three months.

700kg of school and education material has landed in Fiji as part of an initiative I created in September after the devastation I saw post Cyclone Winston, “RakiRaki Schools Initiative”

Entrepreneurs seek to find solutions, outcomes and impact.

Forty six people died in this cyclone, schools flattened, homes washed away, and even after this devastation, just three weeks ago on my return to Fiji, torrential floods wiped the villages out again. Many left with nothing.

Goods include furniture, stationary, reading books, educational toys and the time and energy taken by those to make calls, freight goods, store goods, transport things. It’s been not only a privilege to work with such values aligned people, but to have a spirit of generosity from all corners of business and life extended.

The youngest donor, just 6 years old and the oldest in their 70’s. We received thirty handmade origami cranes from a seven year old entrepreneur from Wagga Wagga,(regional NSW), 350kg of stationary from Pelikan, furniture from B Seated Global and much much more. It goes to show that giving and compassion is timeless, ageless and border-less.

All because I tapped a note to Michael Muehlheim, a Rare Birds mentor and supporter seeking his help and connections. The entire Inspiring Rare Birds community came to the foreground and I have been massively overwhelmed by the generosity and good will.

I’d like you to read the letter I’ve written for the donors because they are the heroes. I am providing a lovo (traditional Fijian lunch cooked in the ground – yes, yum!) tomorrow on the island of Nananu-i-ra, and will welcome the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, two village chiefs, two village elders, three school principals and three head teachers, along with the owner of Safari Lodge, my family and locals dedicating their time and effort to make the lovo.

Tomorrow we feast, and tomorrow 600 school children have the right to world class education again.

As they say in Fiji – vinaka vakelevu


Donor Letter

Bula and good afternoon Minister, VIPs, chiefs, elders, principals, teachers, friends and family,

Welcome to the RakiRaki Schools Donor Lunch.

After visiting RakiRaki in September 2016, I was saddened and devastated to learn the foundation of education and was destroyed in the region. As an entrepreneur, it is easier to see solutions rather than problems, so I set myself a task to hopefully make a small and valuable contribution to your community.

From a Ministry press release (11th August 2016), on International Youth Day, the Minister says “We believe that investment in education is investment for a prosperous future Fiji. Youths are of course the backbone of our country and the Bainimarama Government wants to ensure that Fiji’s future is full of hope and opportunities. A knowledge based society is where individuals are able to rise above variables of differences like, religion and ethnicity and make decisions based on logic and reasoning for the overall benefit of all Fijians.

We want our youths to have knowledge of all factors of production, the society, accommodate others belief systems and be competent on a global scale in all facets of world-wide development.”

In October 2016 I commenced contacting and mobilizing people of influence, care, compassion and value alignment to launch an initiative to refit, restock and renew books, educational material and furniture to enable education at a world class level. I believe literacy and education is the foundation for any journey in life for youth and adults. Education encourages and enables entrepreneurship, independence, creativity, confidence and self value. It empowers a thirst for learning at the highest levels.

I adore the Fijian people and their culture, one of Australia’s closest neighbours. I wanted to make a difference, not just for today, but for years to come. I humbly bestow these goods to the Principals of the schools as custodians to ensure the next generation of Fijian children from Ellington, RakiRaki and Novalou Primary Schools have every opportunity possible to learn, be curious, thrive and lead.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals, businesses and their teams (listed in the letter) that gave educational goods, school furniture, time, energy and effort to enable the refit and supply for three RakiRaki Schools post Cyclone Winston in February and the recent flooding of the villages.

With my warmest regards and vinaka vakelevu,

Jo Burston

Founder and CEO Job Capital

Founder and CEO Inspiring Rare Birds Pty Ltd

Co-Founder and MD Phronesis.Academy


 

Donors

Bruce Haynes, Managing Director Pelikan Artline Pty Ltd – 350kg of notebooks, pens, paper and stationery

Greig Lamport, Director Kalgin Int’l Freight Services Freight – All goods from Sydney to Fiji

Michael Muehlheim, Advisor/Wealth Manager Macquarie Bank – Contact to Pelikan Artline and an ongoing mentor and supporter of Inspiring Rare Birds philanthropic initiatives

The General Manager TOTAL LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS (FIJI) LTD – Freight handling and storage in Fiji

Leah Wallace – Children’s books

Dr Richard Seymour, Co-Founder Phronesis.Academy and Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation University of Sydney – Startup.Business Program to teach entrepreneurship in school curriculum across Fiji

Lynette Burston and friends – 4 boxes of new children’s books and games

Harriet Davies (6 years) – 3 boxes of children’s books

Danielle Klein Menachemson, Founder B Seated Global – 20 school chairs and furniture

Agustin Candusso (7 years) – 30 peace origami cranes

Wagga Wagga Library – 8 boxes of children’s books

Kate Middleton, CEO Censeo Engineering and Founder Career Oracle – School Stationery

Bronwyn Drury – Children’s books

Steven Hui, Founder Iflyflat – Children’s and adult business books

Warren Francis Owner Safari Lodge – Logistics, transport and lunch host

Zoe and Demi Burston (12yrs & 10yrs) – School stationery and children’s books

Any many many other people who anonymously dropped goods to my home.

Read this piece today published by the Fijian Times – Rare Birds raise help for Rakiraki schools
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Here’s A Business That Cares About Supporting Women Entrepreneurs As Much As We Do

At Rare Birds, we’re passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs in the SMB market. It’s our M.O.

 

When Microsoft invited me to speak at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto this year I was thrilled to accept. I wanted to experience first-hand how the world’s leading multinational technology company is supporting the growth of women-led businesses.

 

Are you on mobile? Click here to watch on YouTube

 

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Empowering And Supporting Rare Birds In The Darwin Community

This week, we connected Darwin with the global Rare Birds community, as we launched our Ambassador events program with entrepreneurs and business leaders in the local region.

 

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Rare Birds Global Ambassador for Darwin Linda Reeves (Director of Global Labour Solutions) and Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston discussed diversity, why women should help each other, and the benefits of being an entrepreneur. Here are some of the key takeaways:

1. There are some wonderful by-products to entrepreneurship

Jo says that before she became an entrepreneur, she knew she had more capability and could make more money doing her own thing, but also wanted to become a leader. This was one of her key motivations to becoming an entrepreneur and she knew that to achieve this, “I needed to lead my own ship, my own team”.

Jo says an incredible by-product of being an entrepreneur has also been meeting “extraordinary people in my life from all over the world” – whether they be leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, social connectors or ‘game-changers’.

Linda says that entrepreneurship brought her a sense of “freedom and choice” that really excited her, and the flexibility has allowed her to plan and maximise time with her family.

2. Why it’s important to empower each other

Jo says tall poppy syndrome is “rife” among women and to counteract this it’s really important to “pat each other on the back” and tell people they’ve done a good job.

Linda says it’s important for women to stop being jealous of each other and instead “empower and support each other”. She notes that women build strong relationships with each other and use their feelings more, and this should be encouraged. She says that networking between women is important, and through Rare Birds she has made “a lot of connections” just in the past two months.

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Jo says the “underground wire” of women’s networks is powerful. “Women definitely talk… but I don’t tend to talk about where I get my haircut or nails done, I talk about business – providers that worked well, suppliers, customers – and that stuff moves pretty quickly in the networks.

“When organisations do well for us and are good to us we tell our friends and hope they do business with them as well. We avoid certain companies or suppliers if they don’t service us well. I think that’s a great advantage of the ‘underground wire’ of women.”

Do you need a mentor to guide and support you through your own entrepreneurial journey? Contact Rare Birds community leader Sarah Coull at scoull@inspiringrarebirds.com for details about joining the Rare Birds Mentoring Program.

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The Perth Entrepreneurs Making Their Own Mark

This week, we connected Perth with the global Rare Birds community, as we launched our Ambassador events program with entrepreneurs and business leaders in the local region.

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Rare Birds Global Ambassador for Perth Sue Pember (Director of Aussie Orientation Services), Director of 360 Environmental Michelle Rhodes and Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston discussed how entrepreneurs make the best of the worst scenarios and why you should hire to complement your own skills. Here are the top three takeaways:

Seek opportunities – even in the worst scenarios

Sue says that entrepreneurs need to seek the opportunity in every scenario – even sometimes bad scenarios. “If I missed out on a tender or a deal with a service provider, we’d say, ‘let’s take that time to look at what other opportunities are there’.”

Sue says, “If we hadn’t diversified Aussie Orientation Services [a Perth relocation business] within an inch of its life and I hadn’t started the real estate agency and property management business, I wouldn’t have been around. Most businesses like mine have all gone to the wall, but because we’ve entrenched ourselves with so many of the big corporates, as the go-to people – the problem-solvers – that’s been great.”

Make your own mark

Michelle believes, “There’s a lot of unchartered territory in the world” and entrepreneurship allows you to travel the globe and, “put your own mark on things”. Michelle says that for her, being an entrepreneur means, “to be a part of a better future” and she learns from every experience – good and bad.

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Hire to complement

Sue says that if she were to give advice to her younger self it would be to, “trust yourself and your gut instinct”, particularly when it comes to hiring.

“One of the first big mistakes I made was when I brought in a general manager for Aussie Orientation Services and I employed someone exactly like me. Oh my goodness don’t do that!” she says.

Hiring someone too much like herself meant that, “we just banged heads” and she really learnt that “there’s only one Sue, and I need to employ people that really complement me in different ways, so we can give an amazing offering to our clients”.

Do you need a mentor to help you develop your own entrepreneurial mindset and recruitment skills?

Contact Rare Birds community leader Sarah Coull at scoull@inspiringrarebirds.com for details about joining the Rare Birds Mentoring Program.

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Why You Need To Create Your Very Own Tribe

This week, we connected Cairns with the global Rare Birds community, as we launched our Ambassador events program with entrepreneurs and business leaders in the local region.


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Rare Birds Global Ambassador
 
for Cairns Bree James (Founder of Grand Publishing) and Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston discussed why entrepreneurs should create their own tribes, and trust their gut. Here are the top three takeaways:

1. It’s okay to be yourself and create your own tribe
Bree believes that entrepreneurs “are quite different”. She was bullied at school and says she never really fitted in with the other students “probably because I was selling Avon to all their parents.” However, Bree says that you need to accept that it’s okay not to fit in with other groups or tribes – “sometimes you just have to create your own”.

Jo says that she surrounds herself with, “the right people who get me and don’t judge me, and accept me for exactly how I operate”. Like Bree, Jo also “made a tribe, instead of joining a tribe”. Bree says that one thing women do really well is, “nurture each other”, and she now has a really great tribe around her that encourages her and are good at providing guidance (whether she ignores it or not!).

Sometimes you just have to create your own tribe
– Bree James

2. Follow your gut instinct and never give up
Jo says one of the things she’d tell her younger self is to always follow your gut instinct, because it’s always right: “The two times I haven’t followed it, disasters have occurred”. Whether its related to people, a product or a deal, Jo says, “I have that instinctive feeling inside when something is not right… and I know I need to listen to it”.

Bree acknowledges there may be times when you keep being challenged and you wonder, ” ‘is the universe trying to tell me something?’ ” and at these times you need to “do everything you possibly can” and “continue to evolve” because usually, “It’s ‘no’ for now, not ‘no’ forever – most of the time”.

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3. Cash is king

Jo acknowledges that cash is absolutely king and says she wishes she’d learnt her financials and how to “understand a balance sheet” when she was a teenager, rather that in her twenties: “If you understand every dollar in your business and what’s happening with it, then you can run a very successful company on its own merits – on its own cash.”

Jo says that when started her business Job Capital, that her investor (a serial entrepreneur who became her mentor as well) would ask her, “’How much cash is in the bank?’ and ‘What are sales today?’” every single day for two years. Now, these are the things Jo looks for in her own business.

Do you need a mentor to help you develop your own entrepreneurial mindset and business skills?

Contact Rare Birds community leader Sarah Coull at scoull@inspiringrarebirds.com for details about joining the Rare Birds Mentoring Program.

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LaunchVic Guidelines For Funding Announced

VICTORIA’S STARTUP ECOSYSTEM GETS A BOOST WITH LAUNCHVIC FUNDING ROUND TAKING OFF

 

Victoria’s nation leading startup initiative, LaunchVic, today released a public call for proposals as part of its first round of funding. The brand new company, owned by the Victorian Government, has been set up to make Victoria one of the world’s top destinations for entrepreneurs, startups, and scaleups. It has been created to be agile and flexible, embodying as much as possible the characteristics of the startup community so that it can be responsive to it.

Board Chair, Ahmed Fahour, and CEO, Pradeep Philip, released the guidelines and called for applications for the program that will build the infrastructure around startups and grow the ecosystem.

In releasing the guidelines, Ahmed Fahour said “Today we are calling for applications for small and large ideas that will improve collaboration, build capacity and grow Victoria’s startup pie,” 

 “This funding round gets the ball rolling on LaunchVic’s agenda to make Victoria the startup capital of the world.

“It will give the startup community an immediate boost, bring into service some of the great ideas that are yet to be uncovered and help shape the Boards thinking for future funding rounds and our strategic approach.”

CEO Pradeep Philip said, “LaunchVic is not in the business of funding individual startups but instead supporting the infrastructure which supports startups, entrepreneurs, and scaleups,”

“Proposals that demonstrate their benefit to Victoria and the ecosystem, which highlight how they will ‘give back’ to the ecosystem, and which promote gender, cultural, and economic diversity will be viewed favourably in the assessment for funding.

“We will work with the ecosystem to enhance competition, collaboration, and quality in the ecosystem, not duplicate what others do.

“Growing the startup ecosystem benefits all of its members, drives innovation and boosts the Victorian economy.”

The guidelines for the program are available on the LaunchVic website (www.launchvic.org). They contain more information on the program objectives, how to make a submission and the assessment criteria. 

Applications for the first round close 6 May. For guidelines click here

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