found that start-up Indigenous businesses could improve the well-being and well-being of First Nations individuals and communities. This has the potential to reduce many of the economic and social setbacks experienced by Indigenous peoples.
Australia has outperformed other developed economies in the quality and economic impact of business start-ups. This includes both traditional entrepreneurs and Indigenous startups.
The number of indigenous startups in Australia increased by 30% in the last decade. Indigenous women entrepreneurs and participation in successful Indigenous start-ups are also increasingly common.
the top 500 Australia’s Indigenous societies alone contribute $1.6 billion to the Australian economy.
Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia still face incredible challenges on unemployment, self-employment and entrepreneurship. Compared to the United States and Canada, Australia has a significantly smaller number of Aboriginal people engaged in small businesses.
Our research shows that Aboriginal businesses can be essential for First Nations communities in Australia. These businesses can create jobs for these communities and increase labor market participation. This brings great benefits to the health and quality of life of Indigenous people as well as a positive impact on the Australian economy.
Indigenous entrepreneurship is a driver of social innovation
Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for social, economic and technological progress, and can be a way to support cultural foundations indigenous communities.
Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses are drivers of social innovation because they are often rooted in family, values and social networks. This can contribute to job opportunities and business promotion.
In our research, we found a lot of potential for Indigenous businesses to incorporate their respective cultures and creativity into their work and further develop the Indigenous start-up business sector. Who could be great advantage to indigenous communities.
For example, Keira Birrani developed a local painting start-up and now has nine Aboriginal painters sharing their creativity and culture in the local Aboriginal community of Wodonga. With the help of elders and the local community, Jedda Monaro started a start in blown glass. Jedda now exports its sculptures internationally and redistributes its earnings to the local community.
Some indigenous entrepreneurs prioritize serving their local communities over purely financial motivations. However, there are still significant obstacles and challenges to overcome.
The growth of Aboriginal entrepreneurship continues to lag behind non-Aboriginal entrepreneurship. Our research reveals that this can be due to barriers such as lack of business experience, education or training, racial discrimination and lack of access to resources.
However, there are factors that can influence the success of Aboriginal entrepreneurship. This includes access to mentorship and business partners, higher education and entrepreneurship training. These turned out to be Drivers for success.
Here are examples of successful Indigenous businesses that are embracing community engagement and making real change in communities:
- The Gumatji Company that ensure sustainable economic development for the community by integrating the social laws of the Yolgnu clan
- Talk about MoneyMob providing indigenous communities with better ways to manage money, which will result in financial literacy and basic financial skills in local communities
- Power helps Indigenous families meet their basic needs by integrating with Indigenous coaches and mentors
- Maali Minjarra started a regional tourism business three years ago and now employs 20 full-time Aboriginal employees who act as tour guides.
How to better support Indigenous businesses:
There have recently been government approaches to support new Indigenous businesses, including dedicated education and training for Indigenous startups. This has been applied intermittently in Australia, with marginal success so far. However, further actions are needed.
Our research proposes three main types of intervention:
1) better ways to encourage Aboriginal communities to participate in business. This would involve improving the entrepreneurial and startup culture to be more inclusive for Indigenous peoples
2) direct support to Indigenous peoples, such as education, training and mentorship by organizations dedicated to Indigenous business. A good example is the YARPA and iAccelerate initiative in new south wales
3) develop entrepreneurial ecosystems meet the cultural, economic and institutional needs of Aboriginal businesses. See, for example, a map of a proposed entrepreneurship ecosystem for Indigenous businesses.
To facilitate Indigenous entrepreneurship, we need interventions on improving education in business and self-employment. However, existing government policies and collaboration with Indigenous networks and communities need to better facilitate this.
Community participation is essential for Aboriginal businesses to thrive. Indigenous entrepreneurship has the potential to be a means for communities, governments and non-profit organizations to address social issues, such as poverty, unemployment and social injustice.
Government business initiatives working with Indigenous communities would better facilitate and promote Indigenous voices in business.
Through this, Indigenous peoples would have a say in national trade laws, policies and programs affecting them.
This will bring great benefits to all Australian entrepreneurs, providing inclusive networks and entrepreneurial ecosystems.
This article was written by Professor Alex Maritz and originally appeared in The conversation.