Regional Highlight

Mentors ready to rise to the challenge

A three-year entrepreneurship incubation program connected Riverland business mentors with senior school students to develop ideas that tackled real-world issues. Now those mentors are keen to share their  experience and skills with the next crop of regional innovators.

The Riverland eChallenge provided high school students with a competition based learning experience delivered by Adelaide University.

RDA Murraylands and Riverland sourced adult mentors from the local community to help students bring their ideas to life, guiding them through each stage from concept to reality.

One of the local mentors, Tony Townsend, says being part of the eChallenge was “tremendously rewarding”, and that its ripple effects for the region are considerable.

“To get the quality of people driving this plus the great speakers was an enormous benefit to the students and mentors alike.”

“As mentors, our job was to pull the student’s idea apart, challenge their assumptions and see if they could still make it work – a sort of real world reality check.”

For Tony, seeing students embrace different ways of working and learning was “mind-blowing.”

“Adelaide University’s involvement was such a great thing for local students because those opportunities for country kids just don’t happen every day.”

Some program graduates have gone on to university, while others have stayed in the region to pursue their business.

Nathan Woodrow, who was featured in our last edition, went on to establish Ryde Clothing using the principles and concepts set out in the program.

“Seeing the students use skills from the eChallenge in other entrepreneurial pursuits was the cream on top,” says Tony.

eChallenge was funded under the Regional Development Innovation Fund, which has now wound up.

There’s a huge opportunity for our pool of business mentors to help more budding entrepreneurs. RDA is pursuing options to extend or evolve this successful model.

Contact RDAMR to discuss partnership opportunities for mentor-supported entrepreneurship programs.

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“[The program] gave us enough background to know where to channel our efforts and find out if export is the right thing for us.”

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