Actions taken in the first minutes of an emergency are critical and first responders play a crucial role in everything from natural disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes and cyclones; to criminal acts; pandemic outbreaks; car accidents; chemical spills and even shipwrecks.

During the January school holidays Teen Start-up will once again introduce Canberra’s teens to the entrepreneurship process. School students (12-18 year olds) from across Canberra will form teams, work together to come up with an idea for a business or social enterprise and then pitch their concept to a panel of judges.

The theme for this Teen Start-Up competition is “First Responders”. Teams will be looking at problems encountered by our first responders in managing emergency situations – the police, paramedics, State Emergency Services, army, public health departments, Hazmat teams, hospital emergency departments and the fire brigade. They will be challenged to come up with innovative solutions to predicting, managing and avoiding emergency situations.

Natural disasters

Every year, Australian communities are subjected to the damaging impacts of disasters caused by bushfires, floods, and severe storms. These impact people, the economy, our infrastructure and the environment and remind us that we have to continue to innovate and improve our resilience to disasters.

While it is very often difficult to accurately predict the size, severity, timing, location and impact of many of these disasters, climate change is likely to have an affect on our future risks with an increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

Wide impact

Managing emergencies largely falls under the jurisdiction of state and territory governments, and local governments also play a significant role, but the wider impacts are felt across a large range of organisations including the not-for-profit sector as organisations like the Red Cross provide humanitarian aid both during and after these events.  Australian organisations also play an important role in supporting relief efforts overseas when natural disasters strike.

What to expect

Students will work together to come up with an idea for a product or service that they believe provides a solution to an issue or challenge that interests them.  To aid the thinking process, students will participate in workshops and presentations from industry professionals. There will also be a hands-on Technology Showcase where students can see new technologies in action. Mentors will also be on hand to assist teams.

Booking for Teen Start-Up: First Responders will open on the 1st October. For more information visit 


Aidan and Krishan used theirs to start an information portal, Kristen used hers to buy insurance for her pet-sitting business and Sam used his to get design work done for his property marketing business.

What do all these young entrepreneurs have in common? They all took advantage of an innovative initiative called the ACT Microcredit Loan Program. Through the program eligible participants receive free mentoring and business advice for a period of 6 months and microloans to help get their businesses off the ground or to expand an existing businesses.

With interest free loans of up to $3,000 for new businesses and low interest loans of up to $10,000 for more established businesses; the microloans have been used by a number of young entrepreneurs to build a credit history and access financing unavailable to them through traditional lending institutions.

 “The young entrepreneurs we support through the ACT Microcredit Loan Program find the mentoring component of the program especially useful to help them iron out issues with their business model as well as come up with cost-effective ways to market their fledgling businesses,” says Anna Pino, CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation centre, the organisation that delivers the program.

“Having access to one-on-one mentoring as well as financing means a young entrepreneur can get their business set up with the right structures in place from the get go”.

According to Anna, one of the criteria she suggests young entrepreneurs consider when looking at whether debt financing is an option to fund their startup, is whether the proposed debt will be incurred to fund equipment and services that are integral to the success of a business idea and can help them start generating cash to help pay the loan back.

An initial discussion with one of the ACT Microcredit mentors can help you determine whether your business idea has potential or whether you should rather invest some more time to create a more robust business idea before considering a loan.

For more information about the ACT Microcredit Loan Program visit


Who we are..

who we are side

We are capability builders; providers of support and assistance; and skilled providers of a range of management services. At Lighthouse we work with people who have ideas.  

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Address :

Unit 6, 65 Tennant Street, Fyshwick ACT 2609

Phone :

+61 2 6163 8300


+61 2 6163 8399


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