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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Louise Nobes


A South Australian social entrepreneur is combating youth unemployment by creating careers through multiple innovative businesses, including cafes.

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Louise Nobes has 15 years’ experience in social work and business.

She completed a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of South Australia in 2004 and a Master of Business Administration seven years later.

Among other jobs, Nobes has worked as a Centrelink social worker, a project manager for social advocacy organisation Life Without Barriers and as a Flinders New Venture Institute “pracademic” (an academic and active practitioner).

She is also the founder and chief operating officer of KIK Innovation.

KIK Innovation provides holistic solutions with the aim of diminishing youth unemployment in South Australia.

The organisation does this by co-designing products and services with businesses, providing young people with job pathways.

An example of this is the coffee shop created under the KIK Innovation brand, KIK Coffee, that gives tangible employment opportunities for at-risk youth.

When KIK Coffee opened its second outpost, Nobes told InDaily most of the employees enrolled were vulnerable. They struggled at school, had mental health issues or physical disabilities, or experienced family violence or homelessness.

“We’re engaging young people who are significantly disadvantaged – who have fallen through the gap and are really struggling,” she said.

“[But] we train them to be business leaders, to understand the growth of small business and be hands-on in the operation of the business.”

Over two years of operation, KIK Innovation has trained 85 young people and created multiple businesses under the umbrella.

In March, KIK Innovation announced its move into the social incubator co-working space Collab4Good with three other leading female social entrepreneurs at Lot 14.

Nobes won the 2017 Social Impact accolade at the Winnovation Awards.

In June she was named one of InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

That every day is another day, and never underestimate the power of purpose and relationships.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

Engagement and authenticity.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

The size of the market. You don’t have a lot of room for getting it wrong.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

Yes, I’m here to stay.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

I believe it has already started with the drive of the entrepreneurial eco-system. We just need to always remember that leadership is not demonstrated by class and the more diversity we have, the stronger the talent.

To see the full list of 40 winners, go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

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