Meeting the needs of indigenous businesses

How can we ensure government support programs meet the needs of Indigenous businesses? A new research report provides insights.
Photo of two Indigenous business owners in a bush setting.

Image credit: Getty images

How can we ensure that government support programs meet the needs of Indigenous businesses? How can we make them easier to access so we can grow a strong and vibrant Indigenous business sector?

Our Supporting Indigenous Business Project set out to explore these questions with an aim of getting a deeper understanding of Indigenous business owner needs, their experience engaging with government support and how delivery could be better.

To ensure a cross-government perspective, the Bizlab project team partnered with:

  • Department of Jobs and Small Business
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • NSW Department of Industry

Holding workshops and one-on-one interviews with Indigenous businesses and stakeholders in:

  • Sydney
  • Darwin
  • Cairns
  • Thursday Island
  • Katherine

Their research identified that Indigenous businesses experience unique challenges. They can face racial stigma and a perception that they are less capable. They are also highly motivated to give back to their community and hire other Indigenous people. Mainstream government support providers don’t see them as a key customer, so working with people who understand the local community is critical.

Business owners also face common issues like lack of early-stage business skills, cash flow and networks. Issues are amplified for Indigenous businesses, with difficulties faced with finding role models in remote communities and navigating mainstream support.

Through these insights, the project team were able to identify 13 opportunities for government to improve business support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report presents initial ideas to improve support in each area and shows who will benefit most.

The team will be conducting further research this year. We hope these findings will be shared widely across the Australian Public Service.

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