Bring the people together and mix in a barbeque and some entrepreneurship.
We must all work together
A business that is properly structured with a good management team can deliver a very wide variety of activities to support their communities, which in turn supports them.
At some point in time, all regional, rural and remote communities face major change and the challenges that go with it. Like every good business, the knack is to anticipate the changes and explore alternatives well before the change happens. Sometimes, to turn a community around and meet the challenges of change, it means the whole community has to work together.
“Down in their hearts, wise men know this truth: the only way to help yourself is to help others”. Elbert Hubbard
There are some serious issues needing support
Approximately 2.6 million people will be touched with mental health problems alone, in Australia over a twelve month period. Making a dent in this one issue justifies the businesses involvement.
However, if we start to look at improving health by developing the activities that address the risk factors, then the businesses can save many millions if not billions of dollars in health services, medicines and hospital expenses.
Then if every business was to save one person from crime in a year this would also save the police, the courts and the expenses associated with jails which would also run into many millions. You can see how the impact of the businesses builds up.
Once you start to look, you will find many ways to help the businesses to grow into valuable and sustainable community assets, respected for the things that they do to support the community. Most people like to help others.
Other ways a business can support its community might include
- Re-creating the spirit of the bush entrepreneurs and to put life into the local economy.
- Setting examples and being role models in good relationship building.
- Developing good work ethics in the unemployed and disadvantaged.
- Helping people to become job ready and finding jobs for them.
- Mentoring of youth to find direction and passion for life.
- Helping to create self-employment and other opportunities.
- Playing a role in managing waste.
- Add value to what already exists by being a catalyst for additional action.
- Providing an additional respite care service in the community.
- Providing an economical handyman service for older or disabled people.
- Providing additional manpower for various community activities and projects.
- Creating another avenue of learning about health and well-being.
- Assisting people to learn more about their community and life skills in general.
- Changing attitudes towards mental health and ageing.
- Improving the morale of many women in the bush.
- Passing on skills and craftsmanship.
- Providing support for people when they go through transitions.
- Providing farmers with a transition to a more enjoyable retirement.
- Economic Development activity can emanate from the community business.
- Businesses can encourage and support local initiatives that might otherwise fail.
- Generate tourism and make tourism products for the community.
- Businesses can do many odd jobs to support other community businesses.
- Help to contribute to the lives of others e.g. by making products for the disabled and elderly.
Understanding of the challenges
What if our community doesn’t understand the issues or the importance of them? Then this is your number one priority as our political leaders discovered in the recent elections. Don’t wait until you lose a major industry or your last bank or supermarket in town.
Being proactive in analysing the health of your community which is underpinned by the diversity of business, non-profit organisations and employment opportunities is essential, as is understanding that if the businesses and non-profits are doing well then so will the rest of your community.
Understanding of the opportunities
One of our biggest inhibitors is thinking that we have to keep on doing the same old thing in the same old way. News flash: Times are changing!
We need to be able to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes in the context of the globalisation and technological revolution. By all means, celebrate tradition but don’t get bogged down in it if you want to survive.
The future is all about being adaptable and agile and with Big Data, Cloud computing and The Internet of Things (IoT) it is becoming much easier to support the businesses and non-profit organisations who support the community,
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Having been involved with regional, rural and remote communities all my life, I still see the dilemmas they have been going through for decades.
- Entrepreneurship will underpin the degree of and effectiveness of community development.
- There is widespread agreement that a defining aspect of the new economy is the increased importance of knowledge.
- A greater share of value is based on intangible inputs such as knowledge, wisdom and entrepreneurial attributes
- Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices we need to make about our communities, rather than the needs of the real businesses and people who live there.
- It’s great to think in terms of ‘community development’ and ‘economic strategies’, but it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers, which require a catalyst.
- Better communities arise from improved entrepreneurial leadership, appropriate analysis and a high level of volunteer participation.
The key is to get the whole community on board and working cohesively together. Yes, easier said than done, but it can be achieved with a bit of pre-planning, some enthusiastic community leadership, and the good will of the people in the community.
I have participated in and seen the evidence with my own eyes where Economic Gardening principles have been applied to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem to great effect.