Lucille Milne had been teaching dance and mediation for women and girls in Melbourne and thought it would transplant well to Wangaratta in north east Victoria. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
- LaunchMe offers business coaching and mentoring to people building or rebuilding their own business
- The program focuses on areas that have been hit hard by bushfires and COVID-19
- In the north east, it covers Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Indigo, Mansfield, and Alpine shires
“I’m a solo mum, so I was stuck at home with three kids, I was homeschooling, and I couldn’t do all the normal things I do to network.”
Ms Milne said even with some aspects moved online, she felt like she could not break through in the local area and was not sure she could keep it going. That was until she saw LaunchMe advertised.
Run by Good Shepherd, LaunchMe offered business coaching, mentoring and access to financial assistance to people who were building or rebuilding their own business.
“I had looked into business mentors online and they were going to be lots of money,” Ms Milne said.
The program is on offer to people who have a current health care card or pension card, people with a personal income of under $45,000 per year after tax, or small businesses that are turning over less than $75,000.
Eligible individuals receive six months of intensive business coaching, while established small businesses receive up to three hours of personalised business coaching and a tailored roadmap to recovery.
The program also offered mental health and financial stress support.
LaunchMe backed by governments’ Disaster Recovery Fund
Funded by both state and federal government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement, the program has already been running successfully in bushfire-impacted parts of Gippsland.
The new north east program covers Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Indigo, Mansfield, and Alpine shires.
North east coach Millie Wall said the program aimed to help people who have been hit hard on many fronts over the past two years.
“For many people, particularly those with families or other responsibilities, or living in remote and rural locations, 9 to 5 work is not possible and starting your own business is the only path to a regular income. But that can be very daunting for those that have a specific set of skills but not the experience in administration, marketing and management.”
Kellie Rorison started her very first business — the Little Ice Creamery in Mansfield — a year ago, and has now signed up to the program for extra support.
“It’s all very new, and having someone to help and give advice is great,” Ms Rorison said.
Ms Milne said it has been invaluable to get her business, called Lucille Loveday, off the ground in the north east.
“I’ve just found it really incredibly helpful. I feel quite emotional about it because it’s been amazing.”