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For the second year running, NCIG has partnered with a small-business support network to help small-businesses in the Hunter region grow and prosper.

Many Rivers is a not-for-profit organisation who provide small business support to aspiring and existing small business owners experiencing challenging circumstances at no cost. Through practical and tailored assistance, Many Rivers supports individuals to start, stay and thrive in business. 

Thanks to a $50,000 donation from NCIG, Many Rivers has been able to support over 46 Hunter-based businesses who have all needed support and advice to keep their businesses thriving.

We recently caught up with Stanley Phung from Local Crop in Newcastle to ask him how support from the program has helped his business.

Tell us about your business…

The Local Crop is a group of local farmers and makers who got together to explore options to create a retail space for our produce rather than relying on weekend markets. Our Ethos is "Local Crop, Local Community".  We aim to provide an environment that fosters community, promotes locally grown, made and created goods.

What services did you receive from Many Rivers? How did it help?

I received a lot of help from our Many Rivers mentor (Dylan) who has a wonderful knowledge in setting up a retail fruit and veg space. He even helped carry boxes, assisted with painting the whole shop!
What did you find the most useful about the assistance from Many Rivers?

I needed help with keeping and maintaining fresh produce, marketing and networking. Dylan has such good knowledge and is a very talented person. He’s done so many different things and has such different experiences. Dylan is able to give me real examples to consider and they are really helpful!

What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Educating the public to get on board with the idea of knowing the story of how and why the Local Co-op started. Word of mouth has been our key marketing strategy and people love telling our stories to their families and friends.

What has been the biggest success to date?

The Local Crop is a co-op that’s located in a shop. We source produce within a 150-200km radius. that’s why we call ourselves local. It is difficult co-ordinating 27 members who are independent, strong minded individuals running their own businesses but it’s very rewarding to work and deal with genuine people.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

A steady income, which we hope to achieve in the next12 months. Secondly, every individual in the group has a big community focus and the guys are really keen for people to see it as a community space, not just your local fruit and veg shop. 

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