Indigenous Business

Indigenous entrepreneurship accelerates in Victoria

AFTER RUNNING the world’s first Indigenous Accelerator in November 2016, Barayamal will be operating more business programs in Victoria, thanks to LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency.

According to Barayamal founder Dean Foley, the rate of entrepreneurship nationally for non-Aboriginal Australians is still about three times greater than that of Indigenous Australians.

However, he said, LaunchVic’s annual mapping of the Victorian startup sector found that Indigenous Australians make up two percent of Victoria’s startup founders, while representing only one percent of Victoria’s population.

On Friday the March 27, Barayamal will be running an intensive Pre-Accelerator program at the Victorian Innovation Hub.

Mr Foley said this program would explore how Indigenous entrepreneurs could quickly validate their business idea without spending a lot of money, the key differences between Indigenous versus non-Indigenous entrepreneurship, and how to pitch to investors. 

Indigenous entrepreneurs who need help launching or taking their business idea to the next level are being encouraged by Mr Foley to register now for Barayamal’s Pre-Accelerator program, with nominations closing on March 20.


Barayamal is an award-winning Indigenous accelerator, which runs intensive entrepreneurship programs for Indigenous entrepreneurs, by Indigenous entrepreneurs – which Mr Foley and his team have dubbed ‘Indigipreneurs’ – who want to achieve their self-determination aspirations through Indigenous entrepreneurship.

At Barayamal, we believe that entrepreneurship and technology can change the world for the better,” Mr Foley said.

“We do this by building technology solutions, running business accelerator programs, free events, the Indigipreneur podcast, school-based education and by investing time and funding Indigenous startups, which are the high-growth economic and employment solution.”

Barayamal means ‘black swan’ in Gamilaraay language. Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but before that, Europeans had only known of white swans.

“In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovative businesses,” Mr Foley said.

“Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and they can also build global businesses.

“Barayamal acknowledges the support it receives from LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency.”


Nominations now open for QRC’s 2020 Indigenous Awards

THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) is calling for nominations for its 2020 Indigenous Awards which “recognise and celebrate the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the state’s resources sector”.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector was committed to providing economic pathways and opportunities to Indigenous Australians from Brisbane to Cape York.

“Our sector is a significant economic resource which can drive wealth and prosperity for Indigenous people and communities,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Indigenous people comprise 4 percent of the state’s workforce in resources and Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4 percent. We are one of only two sectors with a true representation of Indigenous people in our workforce.  

“Another milestone is Indigenous women in resources who represent 24 percent of the Indigenous workforce, which is close to twice the non-Indigenous rate,” he said.

“Separately, land agreements under the Native Title Act provide benefits such as community development, education and heritage initiatives.”

The seventh annual awards on the June 1 will be presented during National Reconciliation Week, at the Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane.

Keynote speaker will be Fiona Jose, chief executive officer at Cape York Partnership.

“Fiona is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with a passion for empowering local change in Indigenous communities and understands the importance of showcasing Indigenous role models and ambassadors,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The Closing the Gap 2018 update reported 6599 Indigenous Australians were employed by the mining industry, an increase by 250 percent since 2006. The number of non-Indigenous Australians employed in mining had increased by 150 percent over the same period.

“The same report stated the mining industry itself is employing significantly more Indigenous Australians than previously and we need to champion these employees,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

QRC is accepting nominations across six award categories:

  • Indigenous Advocacy Award recognises Indigenous or non-Indigenous individuals that have demonstrated outstanding effort to encourage, promote and advocate for increasing Indigenous participation within the resources sector.
  • Exceptional Indigenous Person in Queensland Resources Award recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous person working with the Queensland resources sector in any occupation or profession.
  • Exceptional Indigenous Business in Queensland Resources Award recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous business supplying to the Queensland resources sector.
  • Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative Award recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business participation within resources sector supply chains or programs to support business development and capability in the broader economy.
  • Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative Award recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that enhance the attraction and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in either the resources industry or broader economy.
  • Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Student Award recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous student at a QMEA school who has shown significant promise and passion for a career in the Queensland resources sector.

Nomination forms:


First Nations Foundation launches world-first Indigenous digital financial literacy program

FIRST NATIONS Foundation (FNF) is today launching the world’s first digital financial literacy education program to help First Nations people develop their financial knowledge.

According to First Nations Foundation CEO, Amanda Young, while the content of My Money Dream has been developed by Indigenous people for Indigenous people, FNF has added the might and scale of Australia’s largest industries by offering this to the financial services industry, government and employers to engage with their Indigenous customers and staff.

The training is a validated training program, she said, adapted from 10 years of face-to-face delivery by the foundation and transforms the lives of individuals, their family, friends and communities.  

“We released research in 2019 showing the alarming statistic that nine in 10 Indigenous people have no financial security. This cannot be transcended without financial literacy, and we are enlisting the help of government and industry to help reach and build a financially-savvy Indigenous population.” Ms Young said.

“This is the first step in our Indigenous financial wellbeing strategy.  My Money Dream is a brilliant and low-cost way to bring financial knowledge into the lives of Indigenous people at scale. Potentially we can teach tens of thousands of people, because everyone has a digital device," she said.

"We are asking financial services who want to connect with their Indigenous members to buy My Money Dream and offer it, as a powerful way to build skills and trust. We ask governments to help prepare our Indigenous workers of the future with money skills, for people on cashless welfare cards to skill up and exit that system and for employers to attract and retain their Indigenous staff with this professional development tool.

"We have done the hard work: expert content. All they need to do is buy licenses and start offering to their desired audience.”

Developed with the support of Indigenous Business Australia and Australian Unity, the program helps First Nations people aged 16-60 navigate the financial obstacles unique to Indigenous people, including lessons on money and culture, budgeting, banking, superannuation, insurance, loans and credit, buying a home, buying a car and financial first aid. Using a clever blend of culture, humour and deep knowledge, it is an engaging learning platform.

“Financial knowledge is a powerful tool for prosperity across communities,” Australian Unity head of partnerships Benson Saulo said. “Our ongoing commitment across the Indigenous community is enabling economic empowerment – financial literacy and wellbeing is a critical element of that.”

The platform gives philanthropists who want to create social change in Indigenous communities the power to do so, by allowing them to fund the purchase of user licences to be distributed on their behalf.

The first philanthropic organisation to purchase licences is the Rowe Family Foundation, managed by Perpetual as trustee.

Perpetual’s general manager of community and social investment, Caitriona Fay, said of the support of the Rowe Family Foundation: “As trustee of the Rowe Family Foundation, Perpetual is proud to support Indigenous businesses and communities. Philanthropy has a responsibility to back Indigenous-led organisations who are looking to tackle issues like financial literacy and who are seeking to improve the overall wellbeing of our nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

The Wunan Foundation will be the first recipient of donated licences.

“Financial literacy education is a vital educational tool in building necessary life skills that equips people both young and old with the financial knowledge, resilience and awareness to manage effectively in mainstream society today” Wunan Foundation head of financial wellbeing and housing services, Tanya Hill said.

My Money Dream is built on the success of FNF’s in-person financial literacy training, delivered to 1200 people over the last 10 years, where results showed 90 percent of participants had more confidence in managing money, 83 percent felt better at managing money, and 70 percent were more confident about their financial future, confirming recent research that Indigenous-led products work (Oxfam In Good Hands, 2019).

The adaption to an online format was completed by edu-tech leader, Androgogic.

“Androgogic is proud to be a key partner supporting First Nations Foundation and we were delighted to be able to provide both the Educational Technology infrastructure and the courseware development for the My Money Dream project,” Androgogic CEO, founder and principal education technologist, Alexander Roche said.

FNF chair and Yorta Yorta man, Ian Hamm said, "We are at a time where First Nations people have digital access. This Genesis Generation now have the digital tools for Indigenous economic participation. We offer a meaningful way to learn about money which has personal development elements to work within their community."

My Money Dream licences can be purchased from or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Our Songlines: world’s first Indigenous Australian cultural map

TWO INDIGENOUS entrepreneurs are building an educational platform where Indigenous people can tell their history, their way, and make experiencing Indigenous culture easy for non-Indigenous people. Our Songlines is an interactive mapping platform that connects people to culture.

The web-based platform, co-founded by Our Songlines director and CEO Kayla Cartledge and director Jake Berthelot, tracks your current location and connects you to Indigenous areas of significance around you -- things such as sites, authentic experiences and tours, galleries, cafes and local businesses.

Our Songlines, which has been developed while participating in the Indigenous business incubator Barayamal Accelerator program, allows socially conscious travellers to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture that they know is authentic no matter their timeframes or budget. The platform is available to anyone who has a computer or smartphone and is extremely easy for anyone to navigate. 

“One of our main focuses for Our Songlines is being able to tell a true account of Australian history through our people’s stories and reflect the Indigenous people in a far more positive light then what has been previously taught,"Our Songlines director and CEO Kayla Cartledge said.

"We believe that through this educational platform, our Indigenous and non-Indigenous brothers and sisters will be able to connect to culture in a whole new way and begin to bridge the gap through knowledge sharing and understanding," Ms Cartledge said.

Consultation is an important element to the information collection process and connecting with people, traditional custodians, land councils and cultural business owners is vital in the building and operation of the platform.

Our Songlines is currently undergoing a consultation process and has successfully partnered with three traditional custodians and land councils in Victoria so far.

"Since working in the Barayamal Accelerator, we have deepened our cultural knowledge, continued to build an active social media and website community and mapped over 400 cultural areas," Ms Cartledge said. "A key element of Our Songlines is providing people with authentic cultural experiences and this is done by having bookable experiences on the web-platform that are guaranteed to be Indigenous operated.  

Our Songlines plans to expand into places of significance in other states and territories as well as further into Victoria.



New awards for Indigenous Business Month

INDIGENOUS Business Month (IBM) will introduce three awards to recognise the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to their communities and to Australian society.

A spokesperson said the Indigenous Business Month Awards will showcase the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and provide identifiable national and local role models to inspire all Australians.

The Indigenous Business Month Awards are: 

I2I Award
Indigenous businesses buying from and/or supplying to fellow Indigenous businesses build an interconnected and strong Indigenous business sector by supporting each other. Instances of mentoring and peer-to-peer support or development of new ventures and/or initiatives are encouraged in this category. This award celebrates the commitment by Indigenous businesses to strengthen and grow the sector through trading and working together. 

Indigenous Digital Inventiveness Award
Indigenous digital inventiveness is maturing in Australia. Communities are more connected than ever through digital expression such as emails, instant messaging and texting -- and at a much larger scale through digital enterprise, namely business operations and technology. This award celebrates the intersection between cultural creativity, 'business nous' and technology.

Indigenous Ingenuity Award
Indigenous business has a role to play in using business models to confront challenging community issues. This award celebrates an Indigenous business which is working hard to solve challenges in partnerships with Indigenous communities.

The IBM Awards will be held on October 30 at the Melbourne Business School, where final winners will be announced.

Michelle Evans, MURRA program director and associate professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said, “Indigenous Business Month is now in its fifth year and we are very excited to be able to introduce the Indigenous Business Month Awards and celebrate the Ingenuity of Indigenous businesses. It also allows us to showcase the contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders businesses make, not only to their communities but to the growing Australian economy."

The judging panel includes; Mikaela Jade, CEO and founder of Indigital;Natalie Walker, founder and managing director of Inside Policy; and Scott Young, managing director of Young Guns.

“It is a real honour to be part of the first Indigenous Business Month Awards and go behind the scenes on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses operate, develop, connect and face challenges. The winners will be the cornerstone for future Indigenous businesses.” said Young Guns managing director Scott Young.

Indigenous Business Month runs annually from October 1 to October 31. Registrations to host and attend an event is now open.

Indigenous Business Month is an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving the quality of life in Indigenous communities. 

The Indigenous Business Month initiative is supported by 33 Creative, MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program, Iscariot Media, PwC and CGU.

To enter your business:


CGU backs Indigenous Business Month

INDIGENOUS Business Month has attracted new backing through a new partnership with CGU Insurance Ltd, a subsidiary of the multinational insurance company Insurance Australia Group (IAG). 

The partnership will provide five $5000 Wa-murayangkulang Awards -- the meaning of which is to 'walk forward' -- to an Indigenous SME, Indigenous owner or operator, towards personal and professional development.

Indigenous Business Month founder Michelle Evans said in recognition of this year’s Indigenous Business Month theme ‘Indigenous ingenuity’, the Wa-murayangkulang Awards aim to uplift Indigenous small to medium enterprise owners or operators to grow their future capacity and capability to ensure that they thrive in an ever changing world. The awards proceeds can be spent on further skill acquisition or professional development programs. 

Ms Evans said the chosen Wa-murayangkulang Award winners may also have an opportunity to be showcased as a preferred procurement option on IAG’s Diversity Procurement Hub, with up to two winners to be incubated and accelerated within IAG innovation division: Firemark Labs.

“The Wa-murayangkulang Awards relates perfectly to our belief that the award winners should be aspiring to walk forwards and onwards to a better future for themselves, their business and their communities," said Insurance Australia Group manager of Indigenous engagement, Lee Hinton. "We look forward to working with the award winners testing their business ideas, concepts and strategies within our teams.”

Michelle Evans, who is the MURRA program director and associate professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said, “Indigenous Business Month is excited to be partnering with IAG this year for the first time as we celebrate ‘Indigenous Ingenuity’. IAG has provided an opportunity that will pave the way for future Indigenous Businesses to establish themselves as experts in their field through development and innovation.”

The Wa-murayangkulang Award winners will be announced on October 30 at an Indigenous Business Month event in Melbourne.

Indigenous Business Month is an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving the quality of life in Indigenous communities. 

The Indigenous Business Month initiative is supported by 33 Creative, MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program, Iscariot Media, PwC and IAG. 

More information on entering the IAG Wa-murayangkulang Awards: CGU Wa-murayangkulang Award. Entries closes Wednesday, October 16, 2019.


Investment fund builds vital infrastructure for Indigenous communities

A NEW investment fund aims to build infrastructure for indigenous communities around Australia.

Impact Investment Partners is the first Australian investment fund that aims to invest $500 million over five years across 15 to 20 direct investments to fund Indigenous infrastructure.

It will be drawing the funds from Indigenous capital, which is the money that comes in to sites such as Uluru, and super funds focused on environmental, social and governance investments.

Impact Investment Partners managing director Chris Croker said the fund would address issues like clean water, power and housing in remote communities, and items like healthcare facilities for Indigenous communities in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Croker himself is Indigenous and he was born in Central Australia. 

“I have seen first-hand the deficits and deficiencies in Indigenous communities – which you’d think the times have moved on from previous generations where there were a lot of systematic issues,” Mr Croker told Talking Business.

“You think that with modern society we all enjoy access to the same opportunities and essential services such as water, electricity, housing and access to medical care. It doesn’t happen. That deficit is still there.”


Mr Croker said the aim of the fund was to use two pools of capital to create better social outcomes with the Indigenous capital building up over a period of time, with a specific focus on infrastructure, which is typically underwritten by long term contracts.

For example, it is common for an investment in power generation to be underwritten by a 10-year contract to provide a certain quality of power – and a certain amount of power – to be delivered over a defined period of time.

This typically makes infrastructure a safer investment which can be counter-cyclical to the market.

“We have already identified many investments and some right through to pre-feasibility, feasibility and about-to-execute on a project,” Mr Croker said.

He said the fund aimed to empower the Indigenous communities on several levels with the Indigenous capital being used to address some of the social issues.

“And so when we run the asset – like a medical centre, or electricity – a key component of what we offer over a typical infrastructure investor is that we will work with the Indigenous community to make sure a lot of those services, and their management, the asset management, and the care and maintenance services, are delivered by the community,” Mr Croker said.

“So there is direct involvement at many levels both from the ownership to the operation stage as well.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

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