Interviewing small business women in rural, regional, remote and provincial areas of Australasia - UWA Project 2003 - 2006

It all started with an IDEA in 2002. Viti put forward a proposal to Professor Leonie Still, Centre for Women and Business at UWA to carry out fieldwork on an honorary basis.

The aim of this research proposal was to address the shortfall in academic data associated with women small business enterprises operating in rural, regional and remotes areas.

This was achieved in September 2006 with the publication of Enterprising Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Australasia, (Leonie V. Still & Viti Simmons, University of Western Australia), Small Enterprise Research 14, 1, 2006.

The Journal of SEAANZ Vol 14, Number 1 - 2006 supported by Murdoch Business School, Perth WA.

Maree former owner of Olive Pit Yallingup and Viti wandering through her Olive Grove. Seventeen (17) of the 75 women interviewed were associated with the agricultural sector and the remaining fifty nine were non-farming businesses.

A vignette from that research highlights that when asked what were the difficulties faced in establishing a business in such areas the main factors highlighted were, "... gaining the necessary confidence, locating information and advice on starting a business, finding and setting up a suitable location and obtaining the necessary finance." (Still & Simmons, 2006, p.87).

The 'overwhelming response' by these women about the benefits of owning their own business, "... was the independence and freedom that it gave." (p.87)

Regions and provinces included in this research were, WA, NT, Qld, NSW and North Island of NZ.

An independent longitudinal study has been sponsored by Bear Fruit capturing a sample group from the 2003 / 2005 fieldwork.

The ongoing willingness of regional women business owners to support these types of studies has been crucial.

A large protion of these women profiled are still operating their business and a few are working in different workplace environments or have their business up for sale.

One of the most notable insights from this fieldwork has been the awareness that the State and Territory Borders across Australia and Provincial Boundaries in New Zealand are invisible when you look through the lens of women run small business enterprises with the issues and challenges they share.