The International Business Innovation Mentoring Program (IBIMP) is a newly designed program included in the Multi-Industry Export Program (MT21009). It supports Australian vegetable, onion, and melon growers with one-on-one mentoring and direct strategy assistance that strengthens business innovation, value adding and international trade opportunities.

A limited number of funded positions are available each year for this strategically focussed program. Growers can gain access to 12 months of service and assistance through support activities to achieve strategic milestones for the business once registered.

The primary objectives of the program are focused on:

  • Assistance with innovation and value adding opportunities post-harvest;
  • Receiving strategic advice and support on international marketing, sales and branding strategies;
  • Identifying potential export opportunities that significantly expand your business that improves your bottom line while improving risk management;
  • Upskilling your business to export directly;
  • Uplifting business, market and customer engagement skills;
  • Leveraging data with commercial support that turns ideas into actionable business plans;
  • Provide assistance for cross leveraging opportunities that promotes reciprocal trade strengths;
  • Entrepreneurship guidance to personal mindset development and growth’
  • Overcoming the challenges of Covid-19 and getting back to business.

One grower who has received the support from IBMP in the first year is Wickham Farms in Killarney, Queensland.

Kerri-Ann Lamb is the managing director for Wickham Farms, a vertically integrated grower and processing business that delivers value added and fresh cut potato, onion, pumpkin, sweetpotato and more to manufacturers and food service clients nationally.

Kerri-Ann decided to participate in the IBIMP program to help fast track the vision for the business and overcome the roadblocks.

“The IBIMP Program has helped us immensely during the past nine months,” she said.

“Having someone in your corner that is experienced in all facets of business has provided us with the confidence to expand our business and innovate.

“As a grower and processor, we are extremely busy. Having this resource has helped us prioritise what is important and guide us how to get to the next stage. Having someone hold me accountable with one-on-one support and guiding us through strategic planning and positioning, product design, process design and commercialisation is amazing.

“Without this support, some of our business ideas and opportunities would still be an idea, rather than having a proper plan and actioning it”.

Wickham Farms has recently commercialised a range of “ready to serve” products for B2B channels. Prior to participating in the IBIMP program, the business identified a new technology that could add more convenience to its customers and help increase the value proposition.

“The step changes that occurred started with our mindset. Once we had the right mentor that could show us the path to market, it became simple. We identified a gap in the market for this range and set out to establish how it could be done.

“Through support from our mentor, we were guided from development of the idea, through proof of concept and then commercialisation. Marketing, branding, packaging design, profit viability, food safety and validation were all components of the step changes we made with help from the program,” said Kerri-Ann.

The products are focused on the needs of today’s customers which centre on sustainability, convenience and Australia grown. Wickham Farms plans to expand the product range overseas once further confidence is built in the Australian market over the next 12 months.

“I highly recommend growers consider this program. It has helped take our business to the next level and I don’t think I would have got this far without the direct support. We look forward to going further with the support of this program”.

There are currently another four growers undertaking the IBIMP program with similar success. Growers often have incredible ideas on how they can innovative in their businesses, particularly towards value adding but not sure how to get to market. Realising these opportunities by having such a support program allows the grower to fully investigate the opportunity with expertise provided by the program.