10 March 2020: Cindy Mitchell, who founded the Canberra region’s first dedicated social enterprise business development consultancy, Mill House Ventures has been named the 2020 ACT Woman of the Year.
Ms Mitchell received the top honour as part of International Women’s Day celebrations for her outstanding work in empowering women and girls across Canberra to take control of their future and economic participation, by educating them to embrace entrepreneurship and strive for a voice in the business sector.
Ms Mitchell says she was shocked to receive the award.
“Like a lot of women, my main goal every day is to come in and do my work, make a difference in the community and never really give a lot of thought to recognition, or awards,” said Ms Mitchell.
Over the last four years, Ms Mitchell has created an exciting accelerator program for change makers from diverse backgrounds who have been dissatisfied with the ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to entrepreneurial skills development. The program, GRIST, has graduated over 50 Social Enterprise Ventures, and participants have raised more than $200,000 from their communities to start their Social Enterprise businesses.
Ms Mitchell has extensive experience in using business for good, after starting her own Social Enterprise company No Sweat Fashions Limited. Ms Mitchell’s informed and tailored approach to Education, Training, Business Development, Industry Capacity Development and Research has created profound impact for multicultural, Indigenous and women empowerment in the social impact sector.
The Mill House Ventures – based on campus at the University - is an initiative of founding members, the University of Canberra Foundation and Service ONE Alliance Bank, who wanted to invest in building the capacity of social entrepreneurs.
“My role is to look at how we can include those who have traditionally been excluded from mainstream business development and economic participation,” said Ms Mitchell.
The Mill House Clinic houses social entrepreneurs who work in a variety of spaces, from the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities into the workforce and issues around domestic violence prevention to people working in the environmental space.
“We have a plethora of social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges at the Mill House Clinic. These people are tackling these issues with a business idea on top of that, which is very unique.”
Ms Mitchell has supported women and girls throughout her career. Notably, as a commercialisation and venture capital investor, she helped women with an entrepreneurial capacity to build sustainable and thriving businesses.
“This award has propelled me to want to do more and to figure out how to use this platform to support young women of colour in particular into positions of leadership and entrepreneurship which are my two passions,” said Ms Mitchell.
The UC Capitals also received a special commendation as part of the awards ceremony last week, recognised as one of the ACT’s most successful sporting teams with nine Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) championships.
The team has also been inducted into the 2020 Honour Roll.