Canberra is more than a government town: it has proud stories of entrepreneurialism and philanthropy

As a kid growing up in suburban Canberra, something drew me to entrepreneurs – that almost mythical segment of society who had the capacity to imagine something not yet in existence, bring it to life and have it validated by broader society.

Many entrepreneurs made an indelible mark on the world in the pursuit of their vision (Benjamin Franklin and John D. Rockefeller) and many gave generously to those less fortunate after their eventual success (Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie and Oprah Winfrey).

As a medical student still hooked on the idea of entrepreneurship, I plucked up the courage to make a cold call to Canberra Airport's switchboard of the Canberra Airport seeking a meeting with the then chief executive, Terry Snow – one of the most successful entrepreneurs Canberra has ever produced – a move I proudly own as equal parts naive and audacious. Thankfully, Snow accepted the offer and became a mentor who supported my progression from student to doctor, small business owner, entrepreneur, businessman and, eventually, philanthropist.

It was partly Snow's guidance that helped me expand my vision for Zambrero, a Mexican restaurant that grew from a single store on Lonsdale Street, Braddon, in 2005 to a franchise of more than over 170 restaurants internationally.

Snow also encouraged me to consider my impact beyond business. He had established the Snow Foundatiom in 1991, with his brother George, to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged in Canberra, the surrounding region and beyond. As chief executive since 2006, Snow's daughter, Georgina Byron, focussed the foundation's attention on social welfare, health, education and employment. In the 27 years since it was established, it has donated $20 million to support 264 different organisations and more than 243 individuals.

One such organisation was One Disease, which I established in 2011 with the goal of eliminating crusted scabies from remote Indigenous communities. Crusted scabies is a highly contagious and chronic form of scabies, a skin disease that can result in pain and disfigurement and, if untreated, has a 50 per cent mortality rate over a five-year period. Indigenous Australians have the world's highest reported rates of crusted scabies.


In medical school, I learned a traditional teaching method in surgery – "see one, do one, teach one" – used by doctors to observe, practise, teach and master their field. Taking this lesson to philanthropy, to ensure the success of One Disease, I compiled a board of innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists including the likes of Professor Ngiare Brown, who was one of Australia's first Indigenous doctors, Professor Frank Bowden, who eliminated donovanosis from remote Indigenous Australian communities, and Professor Brian Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel prize for his research on supernovas and the universe's expansion.

Through the board's guidance and the support of organisations like the Snow Foundation, One Disease was remarkably successful, particularly in the Northern Territory. Crusted scabies is now a notifiable disease in the NT – a critical step in receiving the required funding and medical support for our mission. Elimination of crusted scabies is within sights, in the Northern Territory by the end of 2019 and the rest of Australia by 2022.

Canberra isn't always given the credit for having a dynamic culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. But Snow is one clear manifestation of that culture. Thanks to his and the One Disease board's mentorship, just like those entrepreneurs I idealised as a child, we at One Disease are realising our vision and making a mark on the world.

Dr Sam Prince is the founder of One Disease, Zambrero, the Sam Prince Hospitality Group and Next Practice.