Social change on the agenda for students

LEARNING: Students listen to speaker Nikki Valentini, who helped initiate the Growing Abundance project.
LEARNING: Students listen to speaker Nikki Valentini, who helped initiate the Growing Abundance project.

BENDIGO's budding social entrepreneurs - people who have a burning desire to improve the community - are learning how to turn their ideas into reality.

Social Change 101 is a program run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Make a Change Australia, educational organisations for people who want to start a charity or not-for-profit community initiative.

The program involves 15 students working collaboratively with Bendigo's best and brightest - including facilitators, business experts and not-for-profit leaders - to gain skills and confidence.

It started two weeks ago and runs until September.

Make a Change chief executive Karen Corr said the program was action-oriented.

"There are skills sessions and we have people come in who are experts in their business and can provide real-life examples," she said.

"There's a huge amount of passion and ideas in the community and it's exciting this kind of training is available to people."

She said each student was matched with a mentor, based on their ideas and who best could provide them with advice. 

She said to be accepted into the program students had to demonstrate they had a tangible, well thought-out idea they were committed to.

The planned enterprise also had to be self-sufficient and sustainable. One of the students includes Kim Skyring, whose goal is to start Australia's first mobile abattoir as a co-operative of central Victorian farmers.

The abattoir will enable small-scale farmers to supply ethical and sustainable meat directly to their customers.

Mentors include Bendigo and Adelaide Bank community strengthening manager Keith MacQueen, Hillhouse Consulting Group founder and principal Gretchen Hillhouse and Radius Bendigo chief executive Cath McDonalad, to name a few.

Throughout the four-month period students will learn how to source funding, how to work within existing legal structures and how to measure the impact their project is having.

The program is sponsored by the Ian Potter Foundation, the City of Greater Bendigo and local businesses.


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