Recent and current projects by the WiRE team


international proJECTS

In the specific area of empowering women through entrepreneurship and innovation, the USQ project team has successfully delivered several international programs of almost $1m over the last few years. The Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development , USQ  has been able to conduct these programs through significant competitive funding secured by the project team.  These programs have been/are funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

These international capacity building programs led by Professor Retha Wiesner at USQ were designed to enhance gender equality in a business context, empower women through entrepreneurship and improve the success of women entrepreneurs in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These capacity building programs are aimed at individuals in leadership roles in these countries who have an impact on women entrepreneurial development, capacity and skill building through practice and policy. The program provide Fellows with a ‘toolkit’ of Australian best practices, policies, research and promotion initiatives, to build participants’ own knowledge and skills as well as their capacity to more effectively foster women entrepreneurship in their countries.

These program typically comprise a three-week intensive program that is underpinned by the values of women empowerment, capacity building and knowledge sharing. It  includes components such as: best practices of successful women entrepreneurs, creativity, innovation, empowerment of women
entrepreneurs and building competitive advantage through business sustainability activities. The development of initiatives, action plans and project frameworks for post program implementation are integral to these programs.  

 The previous  three international programs conducted were:
•  2015: DFAT Australian Awards Fellowship capacity-building program on "Empowering women through entrepreneurship, innovation and business sustainability" for three partner organisations in Bangladesh and Nepal.  
•    2013: An AusAid Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship capacity-building program on "Empowering women through entrepreneurship, innovation and business sustainability" for six partner organisations engaged in women entrepreneurship development in Pakistan. 

•    2012: An AusAid Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship capacity-building program on Fostering business sustainability for competitiveness in Pakistani Small and Medium Size Enterprises.

As a result of the successful delivery of these programs, on time and within budget, the USQ project team has secured another DFAT grant on Empowering women through entrepreneurship and digital innovation (2017).  A group of entrepreneurial leaders in three countries (Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri-Lanka) will be participating in this project. This project provides an ideal opportunity during May 2017 for participants in the WiRE program to connect, share and collaborate with these entrepreneurial leaders. Find out more about this opportunity and how you can participate here. 

An impressive network was created of almost 80 Australian successful women entrepreneurs that fed into these programs through capacity development and mentoring. The projects had and are having significant impact with several strategies  developed as part of the programs including for example: progressive digital strategies; skill and capacity training of women entrepreneurs especially in in non-traditional sector; effective capacity building strategies; mentorship and strategies to develop incubation centres in these countries.  

Take a peek at the 2015 program:



Also in the area of women entrepreneurship development, the project team has delivered the program "Building Women’s (migrant and refugee women) Start-up Resilience in Regional Queensland" during 2016. The project was funded by Advance Queensland,

Wit a passion for entrepreneurship and small business, project team members have delivered numerous programs to assist small businesses in various ways:

•    Fostering business sustainability in SMEs (collaborator CCIQ) (Department of EHP). $3m (July 2014 – July 2016) – this project used a similar model for capacity building of small businesses as the proposed project. The project has obtained significant impact on SMEs, for example  the ecoBiz program has connected with: over 2000 people, online, over 600 businesses face-to-face.  Businesses have saved: an average of 30% off their energy consumption, 39% off water, 35% off waste. The ecoBiz program secured one of the top four 4 finalist places in the Australian Financial Review University-Industry collaboration Awards;
•    The green leaders project (collaborators CitySmart, Energex, Rio Tinto, South Bank Precinct). Funder Australian Government. $920,000 (2013 – 2015); 
•    High performance work systems and workplace engagement in Western Downs Regional Council. Completed October, 2015. ($65000)
•    Information and communication technologies and Australia’s regional economic competitiveness, Western Downs Regional Council, 2015.
•    Community preferences for digital futures, Southern Downs Regional Council, 2012.
•    Innovation and growth in small and medium enterprises in regional Australia, Western Downs Regional Council, 2015.
•    ICT, innovation and growth in Australia, Australian Governments’ Collaborative Research Network Program, 2012-15. 
•    Big Data for Small Business. Collaborator: Ipswich City Council. ($25,000). Funder: Advance Queensland; 
•    A best practice for managing change for sustainability in SMEs. Funder: CPA. ($15,000) (2012);
•    Managing Sustainability Change for Competitiveness (Commissioned by Enterprise Connect) ($50,000) (2012);
•    Scenario planning with the view to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on training of Queensland apprentices and trainees in the construction industry (Construction Skills Queensland) ($50,000) (2012).


QRRRWN has demonstrated through its Strong Women Leadership and Awards Program,  Strong Women Strong Communities leadership training, Inspirational Women Way Out West leadership and mentoring project and Inspirational Webinar series as well as a number of previous projects that they have the skills, capacity and understanding of how to:
1) engage rural women; 
2) be a trusted and valued provider/designer of educational opportunities both face to face and virtual;
3) understand and assist to alleviate where possible, the issues associated with being a woman conducting business in rural locations; 
4) work within mainstream and social media to raise the profile of success stories of RRR women and;

5) utilise the QRRRWN network to access both mentors and participants.  

In this program, QRRRWN assists with raising the profile of rural entrepreneurial women, sharing  their success stories with QRRRWN’s established rural and mainstream media network and social media following.  As true partner in the program, QRRRWN co-creates the design of entrepreneurship programs to suit rural women and is particularly interested to participate in research in this field to guide its future organisational development. 

Fire Station 101

Fire Station 101 has proven capability in delivering programs for startups and entrepreneurs. Since opening and over the past seven months, Fire Station 101 has delivered over 50 events and programs, including:
•    Startup Launchpad, a 3-workshop engagement taking 20 entrepreneurs from ideation through to market validation;
•    Multiple startup weekend “hackathons”, including the socially-focused Random Hacks of Kindness and the open-data orientated GovHack
•    Executive and team innovation and strategy engagements with Ipswich City Council, Rotary, and West Moreton Hospital
•    School entrepreneur programs, including in-school Impact Academy youth social impact program and hosting the three-day Ecomann young entrepreneur program
•    Community workshops targeting sectors including arts, health, social innovation, and mobilising the older generation
•    Technical training and workshops for virtual reality, IoT, spatial, data, and coding
•    Business “101” sessions, including lean startup, taxes for small business, legal protection, business structures, and more.

Startup Toowoomba

Startup Toowoomba consisting of the Toowoomba Startup Group and Canvas Coworking have conducted regular capacity-building programs over the past 18 months, including:
•    Startup Bootcamps: 8 week programmes to promote lean startup methods for entrepreneurs with an idea
•    Wordpress meetups: developing skills to manage digital presence and online platforms including wordpress website development
•    Lunch & Learn sessions: weekly event covering a different topic each week which provides a theoretical and practical learning opportunity for entrepreneurs
•    Perfect Your Pitch: monthly workshop to improve confidence and effectiveness of verbal delivery of the key message for entrepreneurs looking for customers, partners and/or funding
•    AIM (Accelerating Innovative Mumpreneurs): pre-accelerator program for female founders to improve their ability and confidence, with a structured program to take their business idea through ideation, validation and implementation, with introductions to mentors from various fields that support entrepreneurship and connection to markets
•    Startup Weekends: held twice yearly since 2014, with themed and open focus topics
•    Mumpreneur mornings: networking and story-sharing event which also incorporated a business development compontent, focussed on female founders or those considering starting their own business
•    Founderfest: startup weekend style event, focussed on 15-24 year olds incorporating lean startup methodology with support of local, national and international mentors to provide instruction, support and encouragement to young adults interested in entrepreneurship
•    CoderDojo: introduction of coding languages and programmes to children aged 5-17 years through interactive, non-competitive structure that focusses on topics that engage and stimulate interest in digital development.