Aboriginal Entrepreneur Hub established to support indigenous startups

Budding Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Australian businesspeople will be able to access entrepreneurial services at South Australia’s premier innovation neighbourhood.

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The Aboriginal Entrepreneur Hub (AEH) will be established at Lot Fourteen, the new innovation neighbourhood in the CBD of Adelaide, South Australia by the end of the year.

The AEH will offer a range of free programs designed to bolster First Nation participation in South Australia’s startup sector after being approved in May and allocated $3 million in Australian Government Federal funding as part of the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy.

The AEH was also established in conjunction with the Adelaide City Deal — a 10-year plan designed foster South Australian innovation and its accompanying workforce.

AEH participants will have part of their fees subsidised to participate in Lot Fourteen’s established incubator and accelerator programs and networking opportunities.

The AEH will also connect Aboriginal entrepreneurs in regional locations through webinars or video conferences.

Project spokesperson Ian Nightingale said the AEH will help Aboriginal Australians join the new industries in the innovation precinct while capitalising on their own ideas.

“It’s going to provide a whole range of different initiatives for Aboriginal people that want to start their own business or be involved in some of the projects that are happening at Lot Fourteen,” said Nightingale.

“It’s really providing something quite new, with mentoring skills, business support skills, networking opportunities, both in Adelaide and in some of the regional parts of South Australia to Aboriginal Australians.

“The AEH has already created an interest with large corporates that want to see, and genuinely want to help, Aboriginal people and Aboriginal businesses flourish.”

The AEH will be fully integrated within the existing startup community and spaces at Lot Fourteen after feedback from a stakeholder survey and two co-design workshops determined collaboration rather than segregated services as a priority.

“We ran a co-design workshop, which was facilitated for the Governance Committee, and we had about 150 different people who were business operators as well as individuals, Aboriginal leaders, some students to help with consultation,” said Nightingale.

“The message we had from Aboriginal people from the co-design workshop was they didn’t want separation — they wanted to see the support and the networking and the collaboration so they could fit into the whole part of what will become the innovation and startup hub.

“You’ll have physical things that will brand it, if you like, that this is a collaboration with the other activities that are going on at Lot Fourteen, but you won’t necessarily have a whole section blocked off for Aboriginal businesses and Aboriginal entrepreneurs.”

Nightingale said Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal entrepreneurs have the same challenges when starting a business, such as understanding market needs or developing an apt business model, but this initiative will also inspire younger generations of Aboriginal entrepreneurs to chase their dreams.

“If they’re starting out from scratch, it’s understanding what the market is for the particular business or service, understanding whether their product or service is going to suit the market needs, and whether they have their finances available — do they have the sort of business model that can protect them?” he said.

“It’s perhaps advice that’s learned on the way, but more importantly, it’s more about the role models that Aboriginal people can look to, or any person within their own culture and think ‘that person has done really well in their field, I’d like to do the same.’ ‘How did they do that?’”

A program designed to identify and involve future Aboriginal entrepreneurs is also under consideration.

Stories of interest from across the Asia Pacific.

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