A new business accelerator network tailored specifically for Indigenous Australians has launched in a bid to forge closer ties between business owners.
The Barayamal Network, part of accelerator Barayamal, aims to facilitate collaboration, networking and mentoring of Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners.
It said that its closed group on Facebook has already attracted 800 members following its official launch last month.
“[Our membership comprises] successful Indigenous entrepreneurs, technologist and community members who want to help each other and grow the Indigenous economy to create more opportunities in our communities that will help close the disparity gap through economic development,” Barayamal founder and CEO Dean Foley, a former member of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for the Indigenous community to collaborate and work together to create a better Australia for everyone.”
According to Barayamal, there were 11,538 Indigenous business owner-managers in Australia as of 2016, a rise of almost one-third compared with the 8,891 recorded just five years earlier in 2011.
However, it said that Australia’s Indigenous economy is trailing behind those of other countries such as New Zealand. Barayamal cited figures from New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as showing Maori assets worth NZ$42.6 billion.
Last year, Barayamal was among four programs aimed at supporting Aboriginal entrepreneurs to receive funding from the Victorian government through its LaunchVic program.
It also launched a dedicated business centre for Indigenous Australians — the Barayamal Centre of Entrepreneurship — in July last year, which it claimed to be the first of its kind in the country.
With the federal election now less than two weeks away, Mr Dean called on all political parties to show their support for Indigenous communities to achieve their self-determination aspirations, such as by funding more grants for business and increasing education and support programs for entrepreneurs.
“I think the federal election will provide an exciting opportunity for the new Minister for Indigenous Affairs to make a real difference, instead of developing tokenism policies and spending a ton of taxpayer money that has done little to drive real change and actually help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.
Brisbane-based Barayamal launched in November 2016 in a bid to “empower Indigenous entrepreneurs to create employment and community solutions”.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.