Encouraging tree changes: Regional startups call for capital

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Founder of Armidale business Zondii, Danielle Morton, said a regionally-focused fund would “absolutely” help grow globally-focused businesses based in regional areas.

Ms Morton has so far invested $200,000 in personal savings to launch Zondii, a platform for connecting users to producers so they can directly buy fresh food from their region. She is in the process of expanding the business and sees potential for growth in overseas markets.

Danielle Morton (R) and colleagues from Zondii, based in Armidale, NSW.

Danielle Morton (R) and colleagues from Zondii, based in Armidale, NSW.

Ms Morton is currently working on a funding round for Zondii but said the search for capital has taken her back to capital cities, where most investors are located. She said regionally-focused funding would be a win for communities.

“It would encourage people like me to do tree changes… and people from the regions are already incredibly innovative.”

Ms Morton suggested policymakers consider more support programs that are tied directly to regional incubators to ensure that investment flowing into these businesses stays in regional areas.


The parliamentary inquiry has received more than 40 submissions from policymakers, businesses and industry groups about the barriers to growing strong export businesses across Australia’s economy.

A number of the submissions pointed to difficulties smaller operators face in attracting talent and knowledge around how to export to new markets.

Founder of remote jobs recruitment firm Pointer Remote Roles, Jo Palmer, said regional operators struggled to invest in and attract talent. This was less because of a shortage of candidates across Australia and more because businesses did not know how to leverage those candidates, she said.

“I feel rural businesses [are] facing a challenge because they don’t know how to access the skills and use them remotely,” she said.

There are employees willing to work in regional startups and many are interested in doing this online from other locations, Ms Palmer said.

“The thing is, we’re not utilising the skills already here… activate the people who are already here,” she said.

The inquiry will continue into next year, with hearings resuming this Friday. A separate review of regional Australia is also underway to look at the competitive advantages of regional businesses.

The federal government already has a number of business capital projects underway, including the business growth fund and business securitisation fund.

Several of its most recent accelerating commercialisation grants, announced last week, went to regionally-focused agribusinesses, including livestock tracker ear tag business Ceres, which secured $700,000 in funding.

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Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.

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