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Martina Sill, at a kitchen bench talking on a mobile phone while writing on paper in a binder

Program to support self-starters still strong after more than 30 years

This story was first published on 25 July 2018. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

In July 1985, a pilot program was launched that offered people looking for work an option to generate an income by starting their own business. It was innovative in its provision of both income support and training to help people setup and run a small business.

More than 30 years on New Business Assistance with NEIS* has helped thousands of Australians launch themselves into business and has grown into one of Australia’s most successful employment services.

New Business Assistance with NEIS provides accredited small business training, business mentoring and income support to help individuals start their own business. New Business Assistance is delivered by a network of 21 providers nationally and a total of 8,600 places are available each year.

Under the Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment Initiative, the eligibility to participate in New Business Assistance was broadened to encourage more people to start their own business.

The variety of businesses that have been established through New Business Assistance with NEIS over the years has ranged from delivering nutrition education to setting up a live music venue that has hosted some big name international acts. On the 30th anniversary in 2015, the milestone was recognised in 30 years of success – Celebrating the NEIS programme.

*New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

Martina's story

For Martina Sill it’s meant financial independence for her and her son, something she might not have believed possible when she was an early school leaver who wasn’t able to live at home.

‘Back when I started, I didn’t have family support. I actually never finished high school. I was a single mum who was pregnant at 17.

‘I had considered running a business, it had always been a thought in the back of my head but I just never knew where to start,’ Martina said.

New Business Assistance with NEIS helped Martina enrol in a Certificate IV in Small Business Management.

‘I learnt all the elements that were required for starting a business and then worked on a business plan. I also had a business mentor who helped me along the way for a year.

‘I think you never feel like it’s the right time. It’s quite nerve wracking. I think it was just a moment where I thought this is an amazing opportunity, I’m going to start.‘

Her business, Backstage Beauty, has now been operating for more than four years and Martina and her business recently won a ‘Bride’s Choice’ award in the Sunshine Coast region.

‘The most helpful part of NEIS was the business mentor. I think it's very easy to give up on a business when you're really struggling,’ Martina said. ‘But to have that business mentor there to help you and support you and build up your confidence really helped.

‘I started NEIS in November 2013. And so now we're in 2018 and I have grown my business over the past almost five years. And each year's just been a little step higher.

‘Now… I've got a team of 12 girls and we do over 150 weddings a year. I remember my first year we only did maybe 10 or 20. It's just each year we grow a little bit more.’

Find out more about the New Business Assistance with NEIS.

Feature caption: Martina Sill, who runs successful Sunshine Coast business, Backstage Beauty, is one of many thousands who have begun a business with the help of NEIS since 1985.

Correct at time of publication

Last modified on Thursday 22 August 2019 [8111|120164]