The digital era makes it easy for us to collect a vast amount of data, connect with people that have similar interests, and create a difference in the world we live in. This opens a growing opportunity to use interactive online platforms to support community welfare. The four Australian women entrepreneurs profiled here are leveraging technology to create educational and career opportunities and support local services in their communities.
Natalie Kyriacou is founder of My Green World, a Melbourne-based social enterprise, which aims to engage children and youth in global conservation efforts. It spreads awareness about key environmental issues by conducting events and workshops to support the welfare of animals and their corresponding habitations. My Green World also created a mobile application called World of the Wild, to “re-engage communities with wildlife and environmental issues through fun gameplay”. This app uses the concept of gamification where the user is prompted to take necessary action required to conserve life—for example, by building a wildlife sanctuary or rescuing animals. This provides users with firsthand experience in learning how to rescue and rehabilitate animals (important for the conservation of wildlife and the sustainability of our environment). The app also offers a variety of opportunities to smaller charities and social enterprises to build their image to find similar organisations, so together they can have a louder voice and create greater impact. As a result of her work, Kyriacou was named one of Australia’s 2015 ‘Social Pioneers’ and a ‘Top 50 Leading Conservationist in the World’ in Lori Robinson’s book, ‘Saving Wild: Inspiration from 50 Leading Conservationists’.
Carrie Deane is the founder and CEO of On-Now, a non-profit organisation that focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged people by creating an online platform to help them connect to key support services in their local area using a mobile phone. The platform allows users to access information instantly, without having to connect to the internet. By helping people who are disadvantaged by poor connectivity to communicate and access information, On-Now’s greater mission is to improve the way in which the social services sector in Australia communicates. Deane is also a founder of Rough Threads, a social services program connecting vulnerable Australians with support services within their communities to provide them with resources and help when required. The development of Rough Threads made her one of the Finalists for Australian of the Year 2015 – Local Hero NSW.
Jane Watson is founder of Connected Purpose, an online platform which forms a ‘talent pool’ of individuals striving to make positive difference by contributing their professional skills, interests, and time to social impact organisations. The platform allows organisations to find skilful yet passionate human resources, from volunteers to casual and full-time workers. Watson is also actively involved in Social Ventures Australia to drive innovation in the non-profit sector. Her work includes delivering Google’s Global Impact Challenge in Australia and supporting Microsoft to run their annual Hack4Good.
Maree Adshead is the founding CEO of Open Data Institute (ODI) in Queensland. The ODI was established in 2014 to catalyse open data initiative in Australia. The Institute provides services, classroom learning, events and programs in various areas in Australia, including Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. Since then, the ODI has improved how the Queensland Government publishes its data and leverages its network within the country and globally. Earlier this year, Adshead was appointed Queensland’s first Small Business Champion, as “both Maree and the institute have been recognised as leaders in bringing business, industry, academia and government together to utilise government data as a strategic resource”.
Image credit: Cyprus Moms.