• Entrepreneurs and business community at the Indigenous Business Month event held Tuesday 25th October. Photo:Joseph Mayers (33 Creative)Source: 33 Creative
The second annual Indigenous Business Month, an initiative of the MURRA Indigenous Master Class Program, is about to come to a close and this week a panel was held to discuss the unique position that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs and business people hold in the business 'game'.
By
Emily Nicol

29 Oct 2016 - 12:32 PM  UPDATED 1 Nov 2016 - 11:10 AM

Hosted by 33 Creative, an Aboriginal media, communications & events company, the 'Celebrating Leadership' event held at Customs House in Sydney brought together members of the Indigenous corporate and media sector to acknowledge the successes and challenges faced by Indigenous businesses and share wisdom that has been learnt along the way. 

On the discussion panel was Marlee Silva, the inaugural Co-CEO of AIME, Rod Little the Co-Chairperson of National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Steve Satour, Director of Iwara Travel company and Kristy Masella, CEO of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES).

MC Mayrah Sonter opened up the discussion with Rod Little, who shared his knowledge  about the values of Indigenous businesses. Creating a support network and meeting challenges were key points. Little told NITV that there are strengths that only an Indigenous business can offer to the mainstream. 'Indigenous entrepreneurs' have "unquestionable passion and commitment to not just self growth and wealth, but to their peoples, culture and communities." His advice to any Indigenous person wanting to get in to business is simple. "Trust your judgements. Explore possibilities and learn from mistakes," adding that a network is equally important. "Reach out to brothers and sisters in business to support and receive support. Meet the fears of starting up a business head on."

Steven Satour, Director of Iwara Travel shared his experiences of starting up his own business in the tourism sector, a dream he has had since he started working in the industry as a teenager. When asked why he loves what he does, Satour shared several reasons. "Getting to learn about other countries and cultures all across Australia, seeing how we are the same, different and connected both traditionally and in today's world. Also seeing visitors perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Australia shift positively is really rewarding."

Getting to learn about other countries and cultures all across Australia, seeing how we are the same, different and connected both traditionally and in today's world. Seeing visitors perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Australia shift positively is really rewarding.

Satour added that the biggest lessons both personally and professionally since starting his own business have been centred around intention. "I've learnt that not everyone will be on board with my vision and that's ok. The journey and emotion of personal and professional life almost become one. Also to be clear about your intention for whatever it might be - meetings, phone calls, emails etc, if you cant be clear and articulate it, you are wasting time."

He credits a gratitude practice as a great tool for the inevitable challenging times, with advice for any budding entrepreneurs. "When it gets tough, remember why you do what you do. For every setback and for every win, practice an attitude of gratitude  because there is always a lesson to be learned. Even on the days when all you can be grateful for is that you woke up."

The challenge is out on community, how to develop a hunger to start to thinking entrepreneurially. - Michelle Evans

Director of 33 Creative and MC Mayrah Sonter, told NITV that the event was a great success. "We were really happy with the turnout, seeing a cross section of businesses come together and talk about and celebrate leadership in the business space. I do feel like the conversation has progressed since the first event 12 months ago. There wasn't much talk about the Indigenous procurement policy, which was big last year."

We have been doing business for tens of thousands of years. And this is a strength we can draw on.

For Sonter, there were some points and issues raised which will enable more and more success for those existing businesses to grow and for those who are wanting to 'understand the game'.

"Having an Indigenous business is an advantage. You are uniquely placed to bring services and products to the mainstream that is not at a deficit. We have been doing business for tens of thousands of years. And this is a strength we can draw on. But we also need to support each other on the journey to continue to flourish."

To find out more about Indigenous Business Month head here. And check out the Murra Program here.