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Lighting the spark for young Indigenous entrepreneurs

16 November 2020 at 5:58 pm
Maggie Coggan
A new report finds social entrepreneurship opportunities are key to helping young Aboriginal people thrive

Maggie Coggan | 16 November 2020 at 5:58 pm


Lighting the spark for young Indigenous entrepreneurs
16 November 2020 at 5:58 pm

A new report finds social entrepreneurship opportunities are key to helping young Aboriginal people thrive

For Larrakia woman Nicole Brown her journey as a social entrepreneur has always been guided by her parents. 

“They really set the bar for me,” Brown told Pro Bono News.

And now, she’s passing down everything she knows to her nine-year-old son, Josh. 

“He’s known as the little 10 cent can Josh – collecting cans and recycling them for cash,” she said.  

“He’s really starting to ask those questions about the future as well, and I know that for him, I’m that role model, and I’m setting the bar, the standard, and lighting that spark.” 

Josh isn’t the only young Indigenous person with entrepreneurial hopes. 

A new report from Young Change Agents, Lighting the Spark, has found that there’s never been a more important time to nurture the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs to not only celebrate and promote culture, but to strengthen employment, education and community outcomes.  

Brown, a co-author of the report, said it was important young Indigenous people knew their surrounding community and government had their back.  

“It’s really important for them to know that we are really invested in their future and that we’re all there for them to ensure that they stay on the right track,” she said.

Compiled over 18 months, the report uses learnings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across Darwin and Palmerston in the Northern Territory to highlight six key themes and questions around how Aboriginal entrepreneurs could be supported on a path to success.

So what are these themes?

1. Young entrepreneurs need strong role models.
2. Entrepreneurial skills are a way to celebrate culture and connection to country.
3. The wisdom of Indigenous matriarchs and patriarchs via gender-appropriate support, sets youth up for success.
4. Barriers such as racism, negative community perceptions, and limited options to access financing are holding entrepreneurs back.
5. Indigenous people see all enterprises as social enterprises.
6. Common threads exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business, but important differences do exist.

To apply the findings from the report, Young Change Agents envisages a culturally centred 30-week leadership program to build the next generation of Indigenous role models and leaders. 

It would include week-by-week activities that are aligned with the school calendar so that ideas grow from an early stage.

And this is already becoming a reality, with the enterprise taking on one young entrepreneur early next year, and securing funding to take the plan to the next step.  

Brown added that if work started now, young Aboriginal people would have every opportunity to thrive in the future. 

“If we can equip them now with the right skills now, I think our future country and our future is in safe hands,” she said. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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