Jillian Kilby, Rural Women's Award finalist, helping solve problems

Finalist: Former Coonamble resident Jillian Kilby is the 2018 NSW/ACT AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award Winner and National Finalist. Photo: Supplied.
Finalist: Former Coonamble resident Jillian Kilby is the 2018 NSW/ACT AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award Winner and National Finalist. Photo: Supplied.

Cutting through the noise and having a better understanding of how better to help start-up businesses in rural communities is the aim of former Coonamble resident Jillian Kilby,

In October she will head to Parliament House in Canberra, where the national winner runner-up will be announced.

Jillian said the Rural Women’s Award wasn’t an award or reward, but essentially about what you can do in the future.

“It’s not about what you have done in the past, it’s about what you’re capable of doing in the future with a bursary of $10,000,” she said.

Ms Kilby, who now lives in Dubbo, NSW, said women who start a businesses or pitch an idea for funding typically do it to solve a problem they see in their local communities.

“So some of the best people you can back in business or in an award program, especially regional Australia,” she said.

Ms Kilby has used her $10,000 bursary, generously donated by Westpac, to launch a national survey in partnership with Startup Muster which tracked the progress, challenges, and opportunities within the Australian start-up ecosystem.

Ms Kilby's goal is to start connect problem solvers with the services they need. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Kilby's goal is to start connect problem solvers with the services they need. Photo: Supplied.

She has run a series of workshops where start-ups and service providers came together and discussed what services are lacking which could benefit future entrepreneurs.

“From the survey and workshops I have a whole heap of data which we have never had before about what start-ups in regional communities need help with,” she said.

One of the workshops Ms Kilby rain was held in Dubbo and the aim was to help business owners solve a problem and help service providers do better work in regional areas.

The first three women that walked in to the workshop were asked why they were there and Ms Kilby said they wanted to get an off-farm income.

“So that’s about contributing to regional communities and prosperity of families regardless of whether their on farm or in town running a business,” she said.

And there are many great service providers in regional Australia who are helping people do exactly that, Ms Kilby said.

“The confidence to say ‘I have an idea, I want help’ and knowing where to start are the two key problems we’ve identified through this work and in the next few months our goal is to start helping connect the problem solvers with the services they need,” she said.

The 34-year-old founded The Infrastructure Collective, and has served the infrastructure needs of 50 local governments in regional NSW as well as clients across Australia and the United States.

“All I want to see is more people – both women and men – being brave with their lives… owning their time, taking the chance and backing themselves,” she said.

Ms Kilby said we all have that friend who has an idea which could solve something.

“They are teetering on the edge of starting something great,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to improving the commercial success of start-ups by increasing the capability, capacity and confidence of regional business owners.”

Ms Kilby is also encouraging women to enter the 2019 NSW/ACT AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award.

Most women have great ideas, but it was all about backing oneself, Ms Kilby said.

“You don’t have to live on a farm to apply for this,” she said.

“No part of this is about confining you to an Akubra or a pair of boots.”