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LEED Cooperative has been one of the main drivers of economic development in and around the Maleny area by encouraging and supporting the creation of new enterprises, many of which are still thriving businesses today.

"It all started when my dear friend Jill Jordan organised a Local Economic Development
Forum, held in Maleny at the end of 1996, people from all levels of government and locals
from diverse backgrounds came together to discuss the subject. There was so much passion
about wanting Maleny to be a vibrant, economically sustainable place for us all to live and
work, that another meeting was arranged for those wanting to continue the conversation.

A few meetings later, it was evident there was a lot of interest and energy from both
people who wanted help and support to further their dream of developing a business idea
they had been fostering for many years and from those who had skills, knowledge and
experience to share.

In February 1997 the core group decided they should have a name, so we called ourselves
"Self L.E.D.” but with Jill involved, it wasn't long before we were looking to become a Co-op.

In September 2000 we were incorporated as
Local Economic and Enterprise Development
Cooperative Society Ltd.
A worker cooperative - a not for profit organisation, known as

"Dedicated to assisting communities in the Hinterland and Sunshine Coast to flourish and
become resilient by supporting start-up and established business owners to develop their
ideas and update their skills so building sustainability into the local economies.”

Based in Maleny, L.E.E.D. Spread it's technical and moral support to new businesses 
across the Hinterland, south to the Glasshouse Mountains, north to Noosa and Eumundi, east
to Nambour and west to Kenilworth.

    1. New businesses – many potential new businesses do not initially have the skills to operate.
        They need a range of support services to keep them from joining the huge proportion of
        small businesses that fail within the first five years of operation

    2. Established businesses – where operators need to further develop their skills to maintain
        their present business, or need to inject new ideas and energy to expand or diversify.

In 1998 I participated in a mentoring program run by Sunshine Coast Business Academy and I
became friends with Leigh Racho the owner and told her all about LEED and how we could help her expand her program into the Hinterland using our members as local mentors. The
following year she called me, offering us just 5 places on the new program. Within 3 days
we had filled the spots and asked if we could have any more as we had another 5 people who
also wanted to participate.

It was great, we learnt a lot from working with Leigh, especially to incorporate having fun
into everything you do. She was so impressed with what we achieved and how we successfully
ran  the program, that she recommended we apply for the funding ourselves and run the whole
program the following year. We did and our application, and all subsequent funding
applications were always successful (this was just one of Jills strengths).

These first mentoring schemes undertaken by LEED created a total of 37 new jobs
in 23 new
businesses over an 18 month period (1999-2001).

Between 2000 and 2003 LEED Cooperative received funding through Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, MEDAB (Maroochy Economic Development Board) on behalf of Maroochy Shire Council, putting 40 business owners both men and women through a 12 month mentoring program.

During 2003 and 2004, LEED ran an AusIndustry program through the Office of Women,
mentoring 20 women and organizing workshops and seminars open to all women in business across the region.

L.E.E.D. embraced the cooperative principle of coops supporting each other, when Maleny Enterprise Network Association (MENA) was struggling financially and could no longer
provide it's services to the people of Maleny.
  • LEED members volunteered their time to manage the  reception and run the MENA office 5 days a week for twelve months to prevent the doors from closing. LEED’s initiative allowed the centre not only to stay open but to thrive with the new energy and activities brought into the building.
  • Over the years three LEED members served on the board of directors of MENA         contributing many hours to the success of that organization.
2006 saw LEED running a Women in Business Coaching Scheme on behalf of HBC and in
2007 the Qld Government, State Development Office asked LEED to run the program again.

Also in 2007 The Office of Women funded a six month mentoring program
for 10 women, from Maleny to Yandina

In 2008 LEED initiated two self funded business support groups for women,
running them in both Beerwah and Maleny.

For many years LEED was the only local organisation offering
Networking Events, Workshops
and Business Seminars

These events allowed participants the opportunity to make new contacts and realise the     
importance of developing relationships with other businesses. Joining a support program and
attending these events helped reduce the risk of isolation often experienced by those working for
themselves. LEED actually runs sessions that teach new business owners how to make the most
of such events, that are sometimes the only chance for those working from home to socialise.

Learning the valuable skill of marketing yourself through networking, proved to be vital in
assisting participants to promote their service or product, while helping to reduce
costs and encourage cross fertilisation of ideas, which can lead to the development of new
or the enhancement of products and services.

The Australian economy is built on small businesses, starting up micro and mini businesses can provide self-employment for one, two or more people in the same family, as well as others in the local community. This leads to a decrease in the social and financial burden and on the infrastructure of all levels of government, especially if people no longer need welfare payments and services.

When people learn new skills, their self esteem rises, when inspired and motivated, their
whole wellbeing improves, spreading into all areas of their lives and to those around them.
This can lead  to mammoth social change affecting every member of a family, an organization
and a community. Surveys indicated that most businesses benefited from having personal
business mentors, as well as being exposed to training opportunities. The surveys revealed
that the skills of the LEED members had enabled86% of small businesses mentored to remain
in business after a period of three, four, five and six years. In fact there are local
businesses that are still going strong, 10 and 12 years later.

LEED has proven that with support, new businesses have a much better chance of surviving and established business owners can also rekindle the passion that first got them started in their own enterprise. This renewed energy often leads to new innovation and growth,
which can result in expantion and extra employment, with a positive effect on the local
economy and wellbeing of the whole community."

LEED would love to hear updates from past program participants so please contact us        
phone + 61 (0)7 54942838 mobile + 61 (0)438776836 or email: LEED@magicalmaleny.com

Go to Veronicas special Mentoring and Coaching Program  
"Build Your Business with spirit"  

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