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Pushing women entrepreneurs of colour to the front


17 March 2021 at 4:12 pm
Maggie Coggan
A new festival will showcase around 50 women of colour small business owners, creatives and performers


Maggie Coggan | 17 March 2021 at 4:12 pm


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Pushing women entrepreneurs of colour to the front
17 March 2021 at 4:12 pm

A new festival will showcase around 50 women of colour small business owners, creatives and performers

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women face some of the lowest employment participation rates in Australia, an issue that has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Now, a new festival is trying to change this. 

Run by The Creative Co-Operative, the Curious About Culture festival will showcase around 50 women of colour small business owners, creatives and performers in a bid to help grow their enterprises. 

The Creative Co-Operative founder and director Priyanka Ashraf told Pro Bono News that with 47 per cent of CALD women facing barriers to work in Australia, she hoped by creating a truly accessible event, women of colour creative entrepreneurs would be able to access new opportunities opportunities.  

She said that grant funding from the City of Melbourne and the Victorian government will mean that the festival is completely free for stall holders to participate.  

“The starting point for many businesses is going to the markets, but attending these events is a barrier because of the cost that’s involved… not everyone’s at the same starting line, which is something we are hoping to change,” Ashraf said. 

She said encouraging women of colour to run their own businesses and be their own bosses was also important.   

“I’m from Bangladesh and I grew up with women who were engineers and scientists and doctors and lawyers, and then I came here and [women of colour are] working as babysitters or cleaners. So where’s the drop off?” she said.

“I think that as long as you’re still trying to work for somebody else, they’re deciding whether or not you’re good enough to do so. But if you’re self-employed, you get to call the shots.” 

The festival will feature craft workshops, a fashion photo shoot corner, traditional Henna artistry, Samba performances and interactive Samba dancing, and art installations, as well as enterprises run by women of colour. 

Ticket proceeds will go towards funding The Creative Co-Operative’s next project, a book of short stories authored by emerging young self-identified women of colour authors.  

The festival will run on 21 March in Melbourne. Check out the website for more information.        


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

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

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