A beloved women's network that originated in the Fleurieu Peninsula is scaling back operations around the state from the end of the financial year.
The Women in Business Regional Network was created by Carolyn Jeffrey in 2017 to encourage and support the growth of women run businesses.
Since its inception in Victor Harbor the network has formed groups in Strathalbyn, McLaren Vale and the Southern Suburbs, Murray Bridge, the Adelaide Hills, the Yorke Peninsula, Port Pirie, the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley, the Riverland, the Limestone Coast and Yankalilla.
Ms Jeffrey said the network was going well in June 2021 with 300 members across four states, but when South Australia opened its borders and Omicron came into the picture the network changed.
She said people were either so busy that they did not have time for the network, or they had shut their business due to the uncertainty around COVID at the time.
And so, she decided to change the way the network operates.
"It was a very difficult decision for me to make, but supporting and trying to help so many people though the period that's been COVID has been difficult and very draining on me," she said.
"But, having said that, we have also been able to provide support when these women needed it most."
From June 30, the network will no longer have members and Ms Jeffrey will stop hosting in person events in Yorke Peninsula, Port Pirie, Barossa, Clare Valley, Murray Bridge, Riverland and Limestone Coast.
Events in the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and McLaren Vale/Southern Suburbs will stay, but they will be held less frequently.
Online services, such as the website, WiB Nook coaching program, and online events will also continue.
Another reason Ms Jeffrey decided to change things up was because the network was taking a lot of money and time away from her own business and personal life.
"Something had to give, and it was this," she said.
"I think the important thing to reflect on is that it's done some really great things for women who have felt isolated for a variety of reasons.
"There's been a lot of really amazing collaborations between the women."
One member who said the network has helped her tackle business decisions is Victor Harbor author Estelle Woods.
Mrs Woods said she was sad to see the network change, but knew Ms Jeffrey had done what was right for her.
Mrs Woods joined the network about 18 months ago when she was writing her first book and found invaluable support within the group.
"Setting up my own business, it was great to have a network to tap into, of other women that have already been there," she said.
"Quite often when you are a woman in business by yourself it can be quite isolating."
Mrs Woods said the network targeted a niche group that, before Ms Jeffrey, was not getting a lot of support.
"In the country there is such a shortage of networks that females can join," she said.
Ms Jeffrey said she was proud to see that some members had taken the initiative to create similar groups in their areas.
"It's a nice legacy of the network," she said.
Though the network is changing, Ms Jeffrey will still be heavily involved as supporting women was her passion.
"I will sit back and watch with great pride at these businesses that have started from next to nothing continue to boom," she said.
"I'll still be there, I can't give it up."
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