Business & invest,
Local Gold Coast legend wins prestigious ‘Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year award’
Jade McGarry | April 30, 2021
The Gold Coast is renowned for its ingrained sense of community, an integral element of the region’s culture, often seen expressed through the practical hands-on work of local legends like Amelia Gow.
Amelia Gow is the founder of the non-for-profit recruitment company ‘Active Opportunities’ and proud owner of profit for purpose, ‘6729 Bakery,’ working with disadvantaged Gold Coaster’s getting them back into the workforce through practical training and skill building.
Amelia has recently been awarded with the honorable ‘Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award for social entrepreneurship for her incredible community support, successfully helping people who would never have dreamed of getting back on their feet, working and thriving in the local community.
Amelia explained her initiative to open 6729 was to provide the community with a place that all people were welcome, helping individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, struggling with disabilities, or suffering from substance abuse to enter the workforce and thrive.
“I always wanted to get a place where people can come and feel supported and gain some actual skills to get a job,” Amelia says.
This passion and drive came from Amelia’s own journey with substance abuse and social struggle.
“My background is that I was a dis-engaged youth, I was an addict and I was on the streets, not really a good kid, when I decided to stand up and be a good person, very few people stood up with me, and gave me the help that I needed,” she says.
Amelia explains that even though support from family and friends can be beneficial, it is also important that there is support from the community and workforce to help people get back into the practicalities of work.
“My family was fantastic which was great, but I didn’t finish school, I didn’t have any recent job history, so it was really hard to get a job,” she says.
This lack of ‘practical support’ to move forward in the workforce and society was a definite struggle for Amelia, but after meeting one employer her future shifted and so did her dreams of helping others in a similar situation.
“I remember someone looking at me going, okay so, tell me the real story, and I told her my story and that this was my opportunity to change and save my life and this was just getting a job.”
“She decided to employ me based on the fact that I had been out in the gutter, and I was never going to go there again and just that belief and strength in a human being of what she hired me on.”
“So when I came back from travelling and decided to do this it was understanding that; everyone has used their seventh thousand chance, but that time when that person says ‘I need some help and I’m ready to do this,’ we should stand back and listen and provide that help.”
“And here we have people with disabilities, which has become a big focus of mine, so we have a lot of people here with disabilities that are perfectly capable of doing so much, but we [society] just put people in a box.”
“We have mums returning to work, people dealing with trauma, and here is a place where they get some confidence, through skills and competence building.”
6729 Bakery is poetically named by Amelia after the ‘recipe for success’ which is said to be; ‘six cups of believing in yourself, seven teaspoons of determination, two kilograms of hard work and nine weeks of practical hands on training.’
This ‘profit for purpose’ bakery created by Amelia has manifested itself into the program, ‘Active Opportunities,’ established to teach life skills, and setup future employment opportunities.
“And through that I have built an employability and life skills program, ‘Active Opportunities,’ that supports people in gaining skills for recruitment, built from all of my years of life skills that I had to learn, and all the things that I did to keep me on track. ”
“So I built my own program that gets these guys through that as well so by the time they are finished with me, they are mentally clear, their confidence is back, they have some skills and work history, then they get a job.”
Amelia began her work through hiring out community centres and venues, but these weren’t very stable and practically weren’t great for training, so securing 6729, which she says was just ‘the sign falling on her foot’ was the perfect opportunity to gain that stability to set up her dream.
“This has just gone through the roof, three years ago we were having 12 -15 people at a time here, now there is 60, the demand is just insane, now we are up in Logan and have just opened in Springwood.”
“The course that we offer is a qualification in food processing, cert2 or cert3, and we have qualified expert trainers that deliver that.”
The community members involved in the program can access mentors, as well as practical skill building through qualifications.
There is a group of three mentors that provide ‘home support,’ specifically for drug and alcohol issues, or depression and anxiety that needs to be looked at first, then the trainees head into the kitchen to do work directly with Amelia.
“I come in and do the real ‘mind work’ really switching from that mindset of ‘I can’t and I’m not good enough’ to ‘I am ready to do this.’
“The bakery itself operates independently, that is ‘profit for purpose’ staffed by all ex- students, people who have come through the course who need a bit of extra support or students who show really good initiative, we employ them ourselves.”
“The practical skills that they learn out the back are more around how they work as a team, turning up on time, determining if they are better at following process work or if they are more creative, so we can see in that practical experience what kind of worker they are, so we can get them a better job.”
Winning the ‘Social Entrepreneur’ award for Amelia was a shock, explaining that 6729 and her employability program, for her, is ‘just work.’
“People shouldn’t be rewarded for treating people like human beings, but yes, when they called my name out, I cried.”
“It was such a huge shock, but the recognition; I was probably more overwhelmed with that, the idea that someone thinks this is as good as I do, that was really exciting, I was just blown away.”
After this incredible win, Amelia was automatically a finalist in the National Finals, and with no surprise took out that one too, proud is an understatement for the Gold Coast community.
Keep up to date with all things Gold Coast and subscribe here.