INDIGENOUS Business Australia’s (IBA) national accelerator program, run by early stage investment group Investible in late 2017, has already helped nine early-stage startups turn their businesses into viable commercial enterprises. 

The eight-week accelerator program had participants work with successful startup founders, mentors and investors to gain the insight and experience needed to develop and realise their business vision. 

Through the program, the entrepreneurs were introduced to more than 65 potential customers and partners, 45 investors, and closed seven deals while in the program – four of which were with multinational companies. 

An IBA spokesperson said all accelerator participants continued to receive ongoing support, and the program awarded three founders, Josie Alec from Jummi Factory, Kylie Bradford from Kakadu Tiny Tots and Greg Hodgkinson from Indigispace, with additional tailored prizes to kick-start their business. 

Josie Alec, founder of the Jummi Factory, produces a range of unique bush remedies and skin care products. Investible has helped Ms Alec, who is a healer in Pilbara, WA, to scope a trademark approach and cover the cost of a consumer product marketing expert to create her packaging, social assets, website and re-branding.

Off the back of the program, Ms Alec pitched against 79 other startups to place second at Investible’s AngelPitch event, and then second overall at the Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC) Sydney pitch event. That meant she went on to represent Australia at the OTEC conference hosted in China. 

Ms Alec said the IBA Accelerator program was instrumental in helping her pitch the business at OTEC in China, one of the world’s largest venture capital (VC) events.

“Not only did the IBA Accelerator program inspire me to pursue my dream of running a business that celebrates my heritage, it helped me validate my business model to make sure it was commercially viable,” Ms Alec said.

Four months later, the Jummi Factory is in the process of developing a new nursery in the Pilbara which utilises aquaculture techniques, to develop the next version of her products. With the rebrand almost complete, Jummi Factory products will soon undertake consumer testing, before the product rolls out across Australia for a multinational client.  

Ms Alec will now take part in IBA’s second accelerator program as a mentor. The program, set to kick off in late November, will be delivered virtually, to meet the needs of Indigenous entrepreneurs who find it difficult to be away from their communities for long periods of time.

Investible program lead, Elisa-Marie Dumas, said while the first program was a great success, the virtual format has allowed the IBA  to scale future programs across remote communities.

“There is huge demand in the Indigenous community for economic independence and programs like these can help move the dial in a meaningful way,” Ms Alec said. “Tailoring the program to those who physically need to be in their communities means we have founders participating in places as remote as Groote.

“Given the success of the first IBA Accelerator program, we’re incredibly excited to begin working with these 15 entrepreneurs.”

The program will begin with a two-day kick off in Sydney, followed by a seven-week virtual program and a Demo Day where participants pitch to investors. 

Facilitator Investible was co-founded by entrepreneurial educator Creel Price and one of Australia’s most successful angel investors, Trevor Folsom. After successfully exiting Blueprint Management Group for $109 million, Mr Price and Mr Folsom spent a decade perfecting their respective arts of developing startup methodology and angel investing.

The pair reunited in 2014 to combine this expertise and share it with the next generation of entrepreneurs through Investible.

IBA develops programs to realise its vision of economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, assisting Indigenous Australians to have the same financial opportunities as other Australians.

www.indigenous.gov.au

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MAINIE Australia, the fashion and giftwear company that builds its styles utilising authentic Aboriginal art works, has introduced its first collection for men.

Mainie’s founding director and designer, Charmaine Saunders said it was only a matter of time before Mainie released a collection for men that would complement the popular women’s range of wearable art spanning scarves, versatile tops and sarongs. The men’s collection ranges across pure silk neck ties, bow ties and suit pocket squares in a range of five authentic Indigenous artworks.

“There has always been a strong demand for Mainie to release its own range for men that would tick both boxes of fashion accessory and giftwear,” Ms Saunders said. 

“With our brand now established and featured in retail outlets in both Cairns and throughout Australia, the timing is now right to add a men’s collection,” she said.

According to Ms Saunders, Mainie’s neck tie and bow tie boxed sets include “this season’s must-have accessory for men – a matching pocket square which is generously sized at 34cm x 34cm with a hand rolled hem”.

The silk prints are patterned after the natural environment of the artists’ homes. Designs span versatile earthy neutral and vibrant reef-inspired colour palettes in five unique artworks – two from NAIDOC Artist of the Year, Elverina Johnson from Yarrabah (Seahorses and Mangrove Life) and three from Queensland artist, Justin Butler (Snake Tracks, Protective Shield and Falling Leaves).

Mainie’s bow tie and pocket square sets retail for $100 each while the neck tie and pocket square sets retail for $110 each. All designs feature a matching ladies silk twill or silk chiffon scarf.

Ms Saunders created Mainie as an Aboriginal owned, ethical, fair-trade brand.  Royalties from each sale are returned to the Warlpiri artists of the Tanami Desert in Central Australia and Dirringhi Arts in Yarrabah, North Queensland.

Ms Saunders first developed extensive and popular women’s collections in a mix she has described as the “special melding of two ancient cultures – where the Dreamtime meets the Silk Road”. 

Authentic Aboriginal designs are by traditional artists from Central Australia’s remote Tanami Desert region. The silks used are from artisan silk-makers from “the fabled Silk Cities of China”.

“The original artworks featured in Mainie’s designs are based on ancient, ancestral stories and sacred ceremonial customs which have been passed down through many generations of Warlpiri women over thousands of years,” she said. “The rich and vibrant hues used by the artists perfectly reflect the awe-inspiring beauty of their desert homelands in the Australian Outback.”  

Ms Saunders’s method is to present the collections as ‘collectibles’.

Mainie’s silk pieces are stylishly boxed with artwork authentication, artist biographies as well as each artwork’s Dreamtime Story in English, Chinese and Japanese.

www.mainie.com

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AUSTRALIA’S  first CoderDojo for Indigenous Australians, to close the digital divide and increase employment, has been developed by Barayamal.

CoderDojo First Nations is a national network of coding clubs being developed for Indigenous Australians, which aims to ‘close the gap’ by empowering Indigenous youth with coding skills to help prepare them for Australia’s ever changing economy. 

The first coding club kicked off at Capalaba State College, near Brisbane, in the final school term of 2017, aiming to teach more than 60 Indigenous students how to code. CoderDojo First Nations has also gained interest from other schools and community organisations throughout Australia and plans to expand nationwide in 2018. 
 
CoderDojo First Nations is an initiative of Australia’s Indigenous business accelerator program, Barayamal, and CoderDojo, the world’s leading volunteer-led community of free programming clubs for youth between seven and 17 years. Founded in Ireland in July 2011 by James Whelton and Bill Liao, as of January 2015 CoderDojo had more than 550 operating coding clubs (Dojos) in 55 countries.
 
“CoderDojo First Nations mission is to inspire and empower Australia’s Indigenous youth with coding skills, confidence and opportunities to achieve their dreams and create a better world and future for all who live in it,” Barayamal founder and CEO Dean Foley said.

He said according to Australian Bureau of Statistics research, more than half (53%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were aged under 25 years in 2016.

 “It is extremely important to have programs specifically for Indigenous youth because jobs are changing in the economy and becoming more digital and tech-skilled orientated, and we do not want this disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to continue rising,” Mr Foley said.

“I reached out to existing non-Indigenous organisations that teach youth how to code but they were ‘too busy’ or ‘booked up’ and couldn’t help us teach Indigenous youth how to code. When I found out about CoderDojo and the positive impact they are creating, I decided to launch CoderDojo First Nations to create a national network of volunteer-led coding clubs so Indigenous youth don’t get left behind.”

The digital technologies market is expected to grow from $79 billion in 2017 to $139 billion in 2020, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics in 2016. However, according to the latest government employment study, the Indigenous unemployment rate is currently 21 percent, an increase of 4.3 percent since 2008, and four times the current non-Indigenous unemployment rate of just over 5 percent.

“Through disempowerment and lack of opportunity, the Indigenous community in Australia has the highest rate of suicide of any community in the world,” he said. “By empowering Indigenous Youth, we can help re-shape these statistics and our communities.” 
 
Deloitte Access Economics estimated that increasing economic participation of Indigenous Australians to parity levels could result in an Australian economy that is up to 1.15 percent larger in 2031, a gain of $24 billion in 2012-13 terms.\

Mr Foley said CoderDojo First Nations would partner with multiple educational organisations to run school and term based Entrepreneurship and Coding programs 

www.barayamal.com

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SIGNIFICANT  changes to Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) – including a new Indigenous Entrepreneurs Capital Scheme – are aimed at supporting a wider range of Indigenous businesses at various stages.

The Federal Government announced in May it was “reforming Indigenous Business Australia”. Already, Indigenous business participation has been raised in certain projects, such as the Townsville Stadium, and the new procurement policy has seen extraordinary growth in contracts awarded to 708 Indigenous businesses over the past 18 months.

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ANOTHER $5 million pledge from the Federal Government will add 1000 places in the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy for Indigenous girls across northern New South Wales and southern and western Queensland.

The program, fronted by the Brisbane Broncos NRL club, aims to mentor and encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait girls and offer them career and educational pathways that have not been available before. 

Brisbane Broncos chief executive officer, Paul White, said the announcement by Federal Indigenous affairs Minister Paul Scullion was “a wonderful affirmation of the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy program”.

“The club is very proud of the work the program is doing to empower young women both academically and in their general lives, and is looking forward to partnering with the government to exponentially expand those opportunities," Mr White said.

Mr Scullion, said the funding would also provide continued support for the existing 300 places in the program.

“The Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy is a great program that provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls with an opportunity to be mentored and encourages increased school attendance while building leadership skills and developing career pathways to further education and employment," Mr Scullion said. 

“Investing in the future of women and girls has a significant benefit not only to them as individuals but also for their family and broader community. 

“This program is a great example of how the Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.”

Federal Member for Brisbane, Trevor Evans, said he was proud to represent a sporting club that provided so much to the community.

“The Broncos have a strong history of giving back to the people that have supported and barracked for them, and the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy is just one of many important programmes they run,” Mr Evans said.

www.broncos.com.au

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