Kimberley Furness has seen her hard work for women in business pay off as she took one step closer to national recognition recently.
The Oak magazine founder and editor has been announced as a finalist for the AgriFutures Rural Women's Award.
And to say she's stoked is an understatement.
"Just to even make it to the phone interviews, I was just absolutely pumped," she said.
"I was grateful that a print magazine could be recognised as having an impact and I couldn't think of a more perfect way to start the year."
Based out of Bendigo, Ms Furness founded OAK back in 2017 after many years working in the media.
After seeing a gap in the market, she said the aim of the publication was to support, celebrate and connect women across the regions.
"I also couldn't find a magazine that spoke to me as a woman living and running a business in regional Australia.
"In 2017, all the puzzle pieces came together when I had an opportunity to speak at women in business event and include something in the gift bag.
"I took that opportunity to create a magazine that featured women in business from regional and rural Victoria and southern NSW."
OAK started out as a tiny 27 page magazine and now it's 100 pages plus a podcast, events and thriving online community.
"I also launched a podcast called A Friend of Mine to make the stories of OAK even more accessible," she said.
Ms Furness said it was great to know her business was heading in the right direction after the four years on the market.
"As a business owner, you're often asking yourself whether you're on the right track, whether you're making an impact or what you're doing is creating change," she said.
"I think being named a finalist has really given me validation that I am creating an impact and people do notice the work that you've put in over what has been four years now.
"It's really nice to have this moment to share my story and that of the Oak community.
"I've had the privilege over the years of interviewing past finalists and winners so it's an honour now to be part of the award's alumni.
"I'm also in great company with the finalists of this award, so honestly if I don't win, I'll still be happy to be among great women."
The Victorian winner will be announced at an upcoming award ceremony and will receive a bursary of $15,000 towards her project.
The winner will also compete for the National Award and a further $20,000 for their project, which will be announced at a gala dinner in Canberra later in the year.
In addition to the Victorian AgriFuture Rural Women's Award, the state government is supporting women in agriculture with the Rural Women's Network, encouraging leadership, resilience and connection for women in rural Victoria, and recognising the significant contributions that women have made across the state.
For more information about the award visit go.vic.gov.au/QigtdC
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