With negative stereotypes and a persisting lack of access to resources, budding Indigenous entrepreneurs remain at an unfair disadvantage.
Research has indicated that Indigenous people are a high risk to investors, particularly those from a remote background and with limited access to tools and services available in urban settings, according to entrepreneur and social change ambassador Rebecca Blurton.
From this minority group emerges a second, equally pressing matter surrounding Indigenous women.
“Indigenous women are one of the most marginalized groups in the world with limited access to services and support…Yet it is common that Indigenous women have strong and important leadership roles in Indigenous communities and community organisations,” she said.
“Imagine what they could achieve with the right connections, tools and support network.”
Starting a business is difficult for anyone, however the lack of proper knowledge of the processes involved is a major disadvantage towards Indigenous people, according to Kurbingui’s program manager Kevin Maund.
“A lot of kids come up to me and say, ‘Kev I want to do what you do’, where I run this great program and have a great pay, but most of them don’t realise the struggle I had to go through to get here,” Mr Maud said.
“Support them by letting them know that they can do anything, but also teach them the value of hard work and the fact that things won’t be handed to you on a silver platter….Encourage hard work and persistence, this helps with the learning process.”
An issue that also needs to be addressed is the fact Indigenous Australians from a low socio-economic background are often not aware of the value of money, saving and investment, making it hard to accumulate money for a business to begin with.
“Unless people have been shown how to do this sort of thing startling at an early age, the value of money is different and unless you have this knowledge then you start behind the rest of the pack.”
“I think that a lot of people would be interested to start their own business but would not know how to maintain it unless having a good partner to help them.”
Encouraging Indigenous Australians to enter the business world will not only be good for the community, but for the whole economy in general, with more Indigenous people in employment, making their own unique impact on the country.
“Having more Indigenous entrepreneurs in the business world could do amazing things for the Australian economy…from there they can hire members of their families and get them employed.”
“It can even be good for the tourism industry…if we can start our own businesses to showcase our culture, we can share it with backpackers who come to Australia.”
Numerous efforts have been made to encourage, support, and inspire Indigenous people, especially in higher levels of disadvantage to pursue entrepreneurship.
“A combination of events such as Indigenous Start Up weekend, courses such as MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, organisations that provide mentoring and networking like Indigenous Women in Business and Moorditj who facilitate Innovation and Tech learning opportunities will inspire and motivate young Indigenous people into entrepreneurship,” Ms Blurton said.
“I think that it is very important to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business and entrepreneurship, but again how can we encourage it following the traditional values and wanting to share culture, when it is not welcomed by the mainstream system and society in which we live and try to set these businesses up in?” Mr Maund added.
“Often we don’t accept what we don’t understand…I think Australia would be a better place if we took the time to understand each other more rather than be so dismissive….there are great strengths in both cultures…there’s so much we could learn from each other if we saw each other as equals,” Ms Blurton said.