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Real Business : Issue 1 2012
THE CPA BIG BREAK PROJECT Real Business ISSUE 1, 2012 32 less appeal for women with family responsibilities. The idea behind the WSE is to sell subscriptions to businesses and use that money to employ women to sort, collate and package the magazines in safe, female- only dispatch centres, where the women can develop their skills. For every 100 subscriptions sold, the WSE can employ one woman. Australian Government seed funding helped launch the WSE in 2011, but lower-than-expected subscription rates put the future of the program in doubt. Enter The CPA Big Break Project in 2011. Stage one was to do an analysis of the program’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Having made the shortlist for New South Wales, Dawson, 24, and Abraham, 20, impressed the judges with their PowerPoint presentation. As state finalists they were then handed their next assignment, to prepare a national expansion plan for the WSE. “This stage was a pretty big deal,” says the boys’ academic sponsor, Dr Corinne Cortese. “The y really had to extend themselves.” Subscription dilemma After examining the financials, consulting with representatives from CPA Australia and The Big Issue, and getting advice from similar social enterprises and local academics, the pair initially questioned the value of the subscription. “A subscription cost A$155,” says Abraham. “If you were to go out and buy the magazine every fortnight, it would come to A$130 a year. The simple analysis would be that the subscription has to be cheaper. But The Big Issue doesn’t have the room to do that. Cutting costs goes against the whole model.” As the extra A$25 funds the employment of women, the boys worked on making the subscription appealing to business customers. They proposed an “off-week” electronic supplement to the printed fortnightly magazine, which they calculated would allow the magazine to break even with the sale of an extra 1149 subscriptions. But the really inspired idea was to use the cultural infrastructure of regional and rural sporting clubs to sell subscriptions outside the major cities. Taking the Riverina, a district of New South Wales, as a case study, they theorised that at least 10 per cent of the members of every sports team would buy a subscription or encourage someone else to buy one. At that rate, the Riverina alone could supply 1500 new subscriptions. “Both Ben and Matt are heavily involved in sport in their local area,” says Cortese. “Being from regional areas themselves, they probably realised that those communities revolve around their sporting clubs.” The boys then set to work perfecting their presentation, inviting feedback from peers and experts. “ We were hearing so many differ ent opinions that it got to the point where we were second-guessing ourselves, so eventually we just locked ourselves in a room and got it together,” says Abraham. “In the end we got to present something that we actually believed in. We honestly think that the ideas can work.” Cortese believes it was this preparation that helped Abraham and Dawson secure first place, earning the boys A$20,000 and their university A$50,000. “The guys presented really well as a team,” she says. “They had great ideas, which of course is crucial, but their presentation was so polished and professional.” Broader benefits The pair plans to use a large chunk of the prize money to start their own business, The Student Dollar, and they are still reeling at the non-financial rewards of the competition. “ To put students in touch with the kind of people that this program puts them in touch with at this stage of their career development is insane. You can’t buy the kind of contacts we’ve made. The graduate resumes we’re both going to have and the contacts that will be on it are going to put us so far ahead,” says Abraham. The win has also been great for the University of Wollongong. “The first thing we’ll purchase will be 100 subscriptions to the WSE, which will employ one woman for 2012. Hopefully other universities will get on board with that too,” says Cortese. “Another portion of the money will be spent on student scholarships and the rest on collaborative projects with The Big Issue.” To register for The CPA Big Break Project for 2012 email your full name to firstname.lastname@example.org 30-32_BigBreak.indd 32 30-32_BigBreak.indd 32 6/02/2012 6:21:58 PM 6/02/2012 6:21:58 PM
Issue 1 2010
Issue 3 2012