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Indigenous start up accelerator migrates to the cyberspace because of COVID-19

Dean Foley, Barayamal CEO Source: Supplied

The “Barayamal Virtual Accelerator” has launched and is now taking applications of First Nations start-ups till the 3rd of May 2020.

As Australian entrepreneurs adapt their business models to a world of remote working and disruption, Barayamal is taking its business accelerator programs online to continue supporting First Nations entrepreneurs.

Dean Foley, esteemed entrepreneur and CEO of Barayamal says going online had been on the table but his organisation had not actively prepared for it. They’ve moved in this rapidly space out of necessity because of COVID-19 and they are proceeding one step at a time.

“We’ve mapped it out based on previous accelerator programs that we have adapted to the online space. It is a learning curve for us but we have lots of volunteers and entrepreneurs stepping in pro-bono and helping us in the transition,” Dean Foley said in a yarn with NITV Radio.

He added that Barayamal has also secured a small business grant from LaunchVic, the independent agency responsible for developing Victoria's start-up ecosystem. 

The Barayamal Virtual Accelerator free 10-week business accelerator program will provide weekly mentoring and 1-on-1 coaching support along other resources to accelerate business growth.

Dean Foley said that the Virtual Accelerator is open to First Nations people who are interested in learning how to take their business to the next level and take control of their future arguing that this is a pathway to self-determination through entrepreneurship. 

Applicants have to explain how they will give back to the community.

“The digital economy has the potential to be a game-changer for First Nations people and communities,” Dean Foley also said.

Dean Foley insisted on letting applicants know that applications close on May 3rd for the Virtual Accelerator Program. He also warned that the application questionnaire includes a potentially controversial question asking applicants to explain how they will give back to the community.

In our conversation Dean Foley explained extensively that he wants start-ups, applicants and the Indigenous business community to be aware that there are a lot of Indigenous businesses who are not doing the right thing and not giving back to the community.

The CEO of Barayamal stressed that some of these businesses benefit from generous support offered by the likes of his organisation or government policies designed to build Indigenous business capability yet operate like Western businesses whose primary motivation is more about quick profits and less about giving back to the community.

Mr Foley emphasised that Barayamal programs are all about inspiring and supporting the next generation of First Nations entrepreneurs.

“It’s essential to keep supporting First Nations entrepreneurship development in this disruptive and fast-changing global economy because there will be new opportunities arising from these challenging times that can benefit our communities. Traditional or grassroots First Nations Entrepreneurship can change the world for the better,” Dean Foley said.

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