This year’s NAIDOC theme, “Because of her, we can!” celebrates the invaluable contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made - and continue to make - to their communities, families, our rich history and to the nation.
A recent report by PwC identified the key driver for Indigenous Australians starting businesses was to provide for their families and develop a business that could contribute much needed services to their communities.
For these business owners it is about more than the freedom of running your own business, it’s about contributing to economically sustainable Indigenous communities, enabling self-determination and ultimately. Improving their lives and the lives of their families and community.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are embracing these opportunities and are leading the way for future generations.
The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics census showed a 72% increase in the number of Indigenous business owners in the last decade.
And in April this year, the largest ever group of over 200 Indigenous female business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, attended the unique ‘Strong Women, Strong Business Conference’ in Adelaide, featuring only female speakers, MCs and presenters. The event attracted unprecedented interest, with applications being closed after reaching an excess of 600.
This is one of many powerful initiatives, along with Supply Nation, NPY Women’s Council and Jawun, committed to helping Indigenous business women celebrate their culture, develop networks and inspire each other.
Connecting Indigenous business women & corporate
Supply Nation, an Australian leader in supplier diversity since 2009, connects Indigenous owned and operated businesses to the procurement teams in the corporate sector.
Supply Nation’s partnership, with IAG, (the parent company of CGU), has resulted in the company backing several Indigenous owned businesses, including providers of telecommunications, furniture and bottled water.
IAG are also the proud sponsor of Supply Nation’s ‘Business Woman of the Year' Award.
This year’s recipient was Petina Tieman, owner of Complete Business Solutions based in Cairns, QLD. Petina supports other small business to grow through mentoring support and business advice.
Petina is a great example of the growing number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs, whose business not only helps them take charge of their own financial destiny, but positively changes the lives of people in their communities.
Empowering Indigenous female artists
Based in Alice Springs, the Ngaanyatjarra, Pijantjatjara and Yankunjtjatara Women’s Council (NPY Women’s Council) is a non-profit which has been a provider of support services to the Anangu People, for nearly 40 years.
The Anangu people live in remote communities in a region that crosses the NT, WA and SA borders. Led by an elected board of 12 Indigenous women their work includes youth development programs, family support services as well as arts and culture initiatives.
One of the outstanding success stories of NPY Women’s Councils ‘empowering women to empower themselves’ policy has been the accomplishments of the Tjanapi Desert Weavers.
The weavers create distinctive grass baskets and sculptures that have captured the attention and acclaim of collectors, retailers and galleries around the world.
Tjanapi field officers travel to the communities to provide art supplies, run skills development workshops, arrange exhibitions and commissions and to buy the art itself.
This innovative social enterprise now represents over 400 Aboriginal women from 26 remote communities, and enables them to earn an income from their art.
Sharing business knowledge with Indigenous organisations
Empowering female Indigenous small business has also been a fundamental aim of Jawun.
This visionary not-for-profit, places skilled people from major Australian companies into Indigenous organisations, including the NPY Women’s Council. The Jawun participants share their professional knowledge and expertise with the Indigenous organisations and tackle business challenges or opportunities together.
In return, the Jawun participants are exposed to a rich and rewarding experience working among Indigenous Australians who are doing valuable work to create healthy and sustainable communities.
Each year IAG invites employees from across the company to participate in the Jawun experience.
Previous IAG contributors have included CGU Brand Manager, Louise Lynch, who wrote a communications strategy for the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
“It was a great experience to write a communications strategy that would help them tell their story of women’s empowerment, indigenous art and the cultural importance of the artists connecting with country.”
All three organisations - Jawun, the NPY Women’s Council and Supply Nation are helping the growth of sustainable Indigenous economies, and Indigenous business women are setting an example of pride in their culture, contributing and demonstrating self-determination.
A recipe for small business success.