Sisters who want to start indigenous entrepreneurship

Just 0.4 per cent of the 2490 people in senior roles in the corporate, federal parliament, public service and academic sectors were Indigenous in 2018, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

This compares with 75.9% Anglo-Celtic, 19% European and 4.7% non-European.

And while a report released by the Reserve Bank of Australia last June found that Indigenous businesses grew by about 4 per cent each year, they came from a “historically low base”.

“We will all benefit enormously by addressing the trust challenges facing First Nations entrepreneurs,” report authors Michelle Evans and Cain Polidano wrote.

“As vehicles of self-determination, First Nations businesses and corporations provide social, cultural, environmental and economic contributions to Australian society. These benefits or ‘spillovers’ from First Nations business activity must be understood and valued.”

Indigenous businesses, Ms Peek said – referring to a 2018 report by the non-profit Supply Nation – contribute a social return on investment of $4.41 for every dollar invested, in part because they are more likely to hire indigenous Australians.

But one of the biggest barriers, she said, was the “chronic” lack of capital.

“First Nations people … can’t rely on the bank of mum and dad to get started. They are usually working full-time to raise the money for their business idea and more likely will not have business models,” Ms Peek said.

“We primarily support companies that need open doors to increase their success or expand learning opportunities to take their work, ideas and business to the next level.

“A lot of people here don’t even have internet at home. This is the geographical reality in which we find ourselves. We are also tackling other serious socio-economic difficulties such as low levels of education, violence and home insecurity.”

Sam Edgar, 32, says he’s still receiving ongoing support from Adele and Cara Peek almost 18 months after completing the Make It Happen program, which gave him the confidence to start his own business.

Make It Happen already supports 34 First Nations entrepreneurs and 15 individual businesses. One of them is Indigenous artist Sam Edgar from Perth, who started a business with his brother-in-law.

“I never really understood the basics of the business before working with Adele and Cara and doing their show,” the 32-year-old said. Australian Financial Review.

“I didn’t grow up with a family that had a business, so it opened up a whole new world for me. It felt like a huge risk to jump into without any understanding, but now I feel comfortable exploring and challenging myself.

“There are a lot of Indigenous people with a lot of talent, and I hope they can come forward and create generational wealth with that talent.”

The most recent Indigenous Australian Employment Index showed less than half of First Nations people of working age were in some form of employment, compared to 75.9 per cent for non-Indigenous people.

Progress in closing this gap is slow: it narrowed by just 1.3% in the decade to 2018.

The index showed that 76% of employers have employment targets for Indigenous people, but only around half of employers collect data on the retention of their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander workers.

Prepared by the Minderoo Foundation and Curtin University, the 2022 report card found that more than 50% of Indigenous employees have experienced direct or indirect racism in the workplace, making them feel unsafe to show their cultural identity without discrimination, ridicule or denunciation.

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