Good news for small businesses

By Nadia Dimattina 

CBD small businesses were well rewarded in the Business 3000+ Awards in May.

The annual awards celebrate the endeavours and successes of small businesses in the City of Melbourne.

This year, CBD businesses took out the Female Entrepreneur Award, Social Enterprise Award, International Award and Sustainability award.

Hidden Secrets Tours 

Founded in 2004, the Melbourne tourism business Hidden Secret Tours was developed to create unique walking tours.

The tourism business won the Female Entrepreneur Award.

Owner of Hidden Secret Tours, Fiona Sweetman (below), said she decided to apply in the Female Entrepreneur category as it was new and would recognise her business.

“For me, we were excited there was an option for us to stand out. At the time I was one of the few women in the state as a entrepreneur rather than as a corporation,” she said.

Ms Sweetman described her 13-year-old business, as “very Melbourne centric”. She said she was glad that the award recognised this.

“There are not many awards that showcase Melbourne so I have always been aware of the Business 3000+ Awards because they recognise Melbourne,” she said.

She said the award meant a lot to her business and made it stand out in such a busy small-business city.

“I think it means that we have some focus for our team, that there is an appreciation of what we do … the team was pretty excited,” she said.

Women’s Property Initiatives

Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI) is a community-housing organisation that focuses on at-risk women and their children, providing permanent homes and creating new beginnings.

Business development manager at Women’s Property Initiatives, Kristie Looney (above) said the business started two years ago in response to homelessness and limited affordable housing for women.

“They face the most disadvantage in accessing housing in the private rental market. The basis behind it was to create known and reliable sources of income so that we can keep building more homes and house more women and children,” she said.

Women’s property initiatives established a residential real estate agency that is different to any other business in this industry.

“We operate like any other residential real estate agency but our real point of difference is just where our profits go. There are no shareholders. All of our profits go back to building homes for women and children in the community that need it the most,” Ms Looney said.

The business applied for an 3000+ award for the first time this year and was “over the moon” to win the Social Enterprise award.

“For us, being in the residential real estate industry there is so much competition and it was such a lovely way to get recognised and connect with other people within Melbourne and for them to learn about our business and our business model which is something quite different,” she said.

Ms Looney said that winning an award was a great recognition of what small businesses were doing in Melbourne.

“We think it is an amazing opportunity and we are so impressed by the small businesses in Melbourne and we have experienced how hard it is in the last two years to get a small business up and running,” she said.

Chin Communications

Leading Chinese and interpreting company, Chin Communications, has won a Business 3000+ award in the International category.

Celebrating 25 years as a business, Chin Communications is one of the most trusted Chinese language specialists in Australia.

Managing director and chief interpreter, Prof Charles Qin (below) said the small business had grown over the years.

“My partner and I set up the company as an interpreting and translation company. Over the years we have grown from just the two of us, now with 15 full timers and 150 contractors providing interpreting, translation, consulting, designing and publishing services to Australian companies,” he said.

After applying for the Business 3000+ award last year and receiving an highly commended award they decided to re-apply and were happy with the result.

“We are very happy. You apply with the hope that you want to win and we did win, so it is wonderful,” Professor Qin said.

He said winning the International Award was important to Chin Communications at a business level.


RightShip is a small business, which has helped to significantly improve global maritime safety standards since 2001.

This world-leading ship vetting agency helps its customers manage marine risk by testing vessels such as large ships and also testing vessels for environmental sustainability.

RightShip was initially formed as a response to avoidable accidents at sea.

Communications manager at RightShip, Helen Gibney said it was humbled to have won the Sustainability Award.

“It is an honour to win a B3000+ award. We were up against some impressive organisations and we looked around the room and saw the other award winners and feel quite humbled to be amongst such good company,” she said.

It initially decided to apply for the award to establish stronger connections with its community.

“The B3000+ awards were a very good fit and a way to make ourselves become known in our local working community,” she said.

Ms Gibney said the networking opportunities on the awards night were beneficial for the business.

“We met lots of other organisations that we can learn a lot from and hopefully we can contribute to as well. It helps us establish more of a presence here in Melbourne and get to know our local business community as well,” she said.

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