A tea maker, organic food producer and clothing manufacturer for disabled children have taken out the inaugural National Australia Bank (NAB) Microenterprise Loan Awards last night.
The national awards program recognises microenterprise business loan recipients who have experienced success in key areas, rewarding them with a $2000 grant to further enhance their enterprise.
NAB has been providing unsecured microenterprise loans of between $500 and $20,000 for people on low incomes since 2007. The loans give budding entrepreneurs access to much-needed credit to fund a start-up business, an opportunity that many asset-poor Australians cannot access.
Three winners were selected in recognition of their business achievements since receiving a NAB Microenterprise Loan last night;
Female entrepreneur of the year
Adelaide sisters Lois Walsh, Kay Rault and Anne Boer were jointly awarded for their disabled clothing line business, Dresseasy Clothing Inspired by Lacey Shea. Motivated to help Anne’s granddaughter Lacey, who suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, total blindness and asthma, the sisters understood the morning frustration of getting Lacey dressed. With the help of NAB’s Microenterprise Loan, Ms Walsh created a line of fashionable, easy on easy off clothing and purchased equipment to help her business expand.
Young entrepreneur of the year
Vincent Maneno along with his partner Lilly Wang, received the award for their gourmet flavoured tea company, Kettle Town. Inspired by a dare to avoid alcohol, Mr Maneno fell in love with drinking tea but felt unsatisfied with the flavoured teas on the market. A cash injection from NAB funded the move of manufacturing from their home to a local warehouse. They were also able to purchase equipment that helped make production more efficient, aiding Kettle Tea’s expansion into 15 cafes and stores.
Best business success story
Matthew Hardie was recognised for his homemade organic food bites company, Manuko. After outgrowing the capacity of his home kitchen, the loan allowed the hire of a dedicated commercial kitchen to increase production to meet escalating demand. In the space of two years, Manuko products went from being stocked in one Melbourne store to now being available in close to100 outlets around Australia.
NAB General Manager of Small Business, David Bannatyne, said the awards program was a great way to recognise successful microenterprises and their owners.
“Starting and running your own small business is a rewarding yet challenging experience and accessing affordable credit can seem impossible for people on low incomes and without assets,” he said.
“A NAB Microenterprise Loan can give an aspiring entrepreneur the kick-start they need to turn dreams into reality and we’re delighted to celebrate their achievements tonight.”
The NAB Microenterprise Loan Awards formed part of the Small Business Development Conference, an annual event designed to provide professional development for those involved in small business.