Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!
What are you working on?
We are currently preparing for our next Festival of Ambitious Ideas which will be held on Thursday the 25th October. The Festival of Ambitious Ideas showcases some of the innovative businesses and initiatives in Canberra across a variety of sectors and is designed to be fast-paced, informal and fun. The theme for this festival is ‘Interesting People Doing Interesting Things’. We use an Ignite format where each speaker has 5 minutes to tell their story and ‘ignite’ the audience. In a little over an hour, guests are treated to a range of different ideas and perspectives. Following the presentations there is an opportunity for networking and for the audience to speak to the various presenters. We are firm believers in the ‘Medici Effect’ where innovation happens when you bring together people from different disciplines to share ideas.
Why is innovation important to you?
‘Innovation’ is one of those terms that that seem to be the ‘flavour of the month’ at the moment and you see it used in many different contexts in business, government and education. But is it being used in the true sense of the word? The dictionary defines innovation as the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something. So it’s not just about tech developments and the next Google or Facebook – it is about doing something (anything!) differently. Many small businesses can feel that what they do isn’t innovative because it doesn’t involve cutting edge technology or coding; this is very unfortunate. We believe the conversation around innovation is changing; its no longer just about product and technological innovation, it is also about value innovation and creating entirely new markets.
What drives you to make a difference?
We both originally trained in Psychology and what drives us is building the capability and resilience in the individuals that are at the centre of the start-ups, small businesses and organisations that power our economy. We believe that an organisation is only as strong as the people in it.
Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
There has always been a lot of debate around what motivates women to start businesses and funny enough it’s not that different to what motivates men. These days’ women start businesses because of dissatisfaction with work, unemployment or underemployment and the need to generate income. But women also aim for autonomy and independence, the ability to work around children and family responsibilities, personal satisfaction and achievement. The ACT Microcredit Loan Program, a 3-way partnership between Lighthouse, the ACT Government and Westpac Institutional Bank, has been running for over 6 years and around 75% of our recipients are female. They are all innovators because doing things differently is central to any business’s survival.