A HORSHAM woman is a finalist in the Victorian Rural Women’s Award.
Avril Hogan started market research consulting company Insightrix in 2004.
The company now employs more than 20 full-time staff at its Horsham office.
Ms Hogan said it was exciting to be a finalist.
“It’s been a good year for the business, it is going well and I have great staff,” she said.
The winner of the award will receive $10,000 to support a leadership development project.
Ms Hogan said her proposed project was to develop a mentoring program for young women in small regional communities.
“I want to bring inspirational speakers to towns with less than 1000 people and have them speak to girls aged between 13 and 19,” she said.
From there, attendees could submit an expression of interest to be matched with a mentor for a period of eight months.
“Rural areas have higher school-leaver rates than metro areas, so it’s about encouraging girls to continue with their education and think about careers that will benefit rural areas,” Ms Hogan said.
“I have been employing people for about nine years and see a lot of young women who have left school early and have limited opportunities, but want to stay in Horsham.
“As an employer I think we have a limited workforce here and need more skilled people to contribute to the local economy.”
Ms Hogan moved to the Wimmera from Canada with her Australian-born husband.
“I was working in international trade and I started the business because there weren’t a lot of international trade jobs in the area,” she said.
“We do work for a few companies in Horsham but the majority of our clients are from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, with a few in Brisbane and Western Australia.”
She said the business brought jobs to the area that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
Ms Hogan is also treasurer of Wimmera Toy Library and founding member of the Foreign Wives Club – a social group for women new to the area.
The Rural Women’s Award winner will be announced at Parliament House on March 13.
Other finalists include Karen Corr of Bendigo, Julie Aldous of Mansfield and Liza Fahey of Terang.