Rural communities must take responsibility for their own outcomes

26 June 2016 Author :  
Monday is a very exciting time for a few startups in Charters Towers. It's their first day of "school" or if you like, taking their startup to the next level with valuable assistance and support, along with training and some financial assistance.

The World Incubator is an open office for startups, and over the past 6 months or so, people have brought together their ideas and dreams, or even businesses that they have just started, to see if they could either be in The World Incubator or in some cases just to verify that their idea is a good one. Mostly they have been, but there is one hitch and that is the incubator is about selling to the world.

However, that mandate belongs to the sponsored startups. Others with any ideas, from knitting scarves through to making local jams for the markets, are welcome every day of the work week with most resources and help open to them free of charge.

We had what we thought 8 good concepts to fund and work with, but a few things have happened. Three (3) are planning on now leaving town, a couple have health problems, and there is of course the issue that people have to work to survive.

Like any entrepreneur with a social vision, we immediately adapted. 

We will still fund what we believe is in the top 3 best ideas, even though they can't turn up every day. The idea is too good to let it pass and they are real entrepreneurs, but still like everyone else, have to make a living.

In total, over the course of the first incubation period, there should be around six (6) companies that are funded and given all the free services associated with this not-for-profit business incubator.

But that is not where it stops. Others are invited in too. However there are rules, and this is the hard part: Be Nice. Dream Big. No Gossip. Kindness Always. I stole the first two from the Atlanta Technology Village. They are too good and belong to them... but I am sure they are happy for us to believe in these values too.

Over the past 3 days or so, there has been an influx from some people, and mostly fake accounts on Facebook, about The World Incubator. People want to know what it is, who is funding it, and some, how much the Community Manager is paid. Everything about what it is has already been published on social media and through the website and blog, so these same people have access to this information. As for funding, which is mostly by myself, it's kind of a rude question until we have at least been around for 12 months and do Annual Report. The basics however are on the website and there have been a lot of wonderful people who have given free things as well.

Those 3 days have taught me a few things:

  • Those who speak the loudest, may be bullies but their voice gets heard and that creates doubt.
  • Mostly, people are really nice, kind and generous; but they fear standing up for good things on social media platforms in case they get bullied too or picked on, so they send private messages of support.
  • Setting up an incubator is a slow process, and there are so many things that it involves; patience is required.
  • Sponsors won't want to sponsor anything where the bullies are actively doing their thing to make sure it doesn't succeed online, and by association, they don't want those same bullies affecting their brands (which is fair enough).
  • Bringing in money to a rural town to pay for people to be in an incubator is very appreciated by those who are in the incubator, but not so much by those who are not. 
  • People that have not been brought up in a giving environment, tend to find it difficult to believe that people are just kind and give.

I am a very busy person, and we have a wonderful manager in at The World Incubator. I have so many projects for him after the incubation period, that it's not funny. But for the next 4 months, he is going to have his hands full. 

After that, we believe that sometimes its in the best interest for the community to do their own thing. They can decide whether they want to invest in entrepreneurship or do nothing at all, if that is what they prefer.

The World Incubator per se, is a long-term view, but geographically will not be defined by Charters Towers as the location. We will continue to support startups and help incubate them in various modern models of incubation, with Charles Shewring at the helm. Giving is a pleasure and a privilege and we do so with a warm heart and desire to see people be successful, create jobs and keep young people in rural towns.
The World Incubator

Mellissah Smith is the Chairperson of The World Incubator, a not-for-profit business incubator in rural Queensland. Currently the incubator is situation in Wherry House in Charters Towers, North Queensland and houses 10 startups. The World Incubator is host to North Queensland’s largest entrepreneurs conference with all proceeds going to helping rural and regional startups and farmers. Book tickets on

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