My name is Dean Foley and I’m a Kamilaroi man from Gunnedah, NSW. I come from a poor family and grew up in a rough environment like most people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, but somehow I finished year 12 and received a special and positive mention at our school graduation, despite not turning up to approximately 30% of school days and ending up with below average school scores. There were only a few classmates who received a special mention at our graduation, and I think a lot of people were shocked that I was one of them, let alone being told I would eventually become successful in something one day.
I wasn’t sure what that thing was, and I didn’t feel I was smart enough to go to university with below average grades, so I joined the Royal Australian Air Force, which is pretty funny in hindsight because I’m in the last semester of my masters degree at the Queensland University of Technology, and the Air Force was definitely harder. Joining the Air Force was a dream come true because I always wanted to serve in the Australian Defence Force like my grandfather who fought in numerous locations in World War II and was one of the Rats of Tobruk.
However, after a friend in the Air Force gave me a book on entrepreneurship and when I started learning about entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who I believe are making a real difference in the world, I decided to leave the Air Force after 5 years to learn about what it takes to run and grow businesses.
It became apparent to me that Indigenous Australians had a lack of positive role models in business and a lack of awareness of pathways to starting and growing a business. In addition, I discovered organisations that are given 10’s of millions of taxpayer funding every year to help Indigenous entrepreneurs, weren’t really that helpful – the most help I got from them after being told they could help me was, if you want to own a cafe, go work in a cafe…
I now believe Indigenous entrepreneurship is the high growth and impact solution that will help close the disparity and opportunity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And with over 50% of Indigenous Australians under the age of 25, the youth have to stand up and help lead the way.
This is why I started Barayamal, Australia’s Indigenous business accelerator, which is now known as a world leader in Indigenous entrepreneurship. We inspire and support Indigenous youth and entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams through entrepreneurship and technology so they can achieve their self-determination aspirations and create a better Australia for all who live in it.
Despite not receiving millions of taxpayer money like our “competitors”, we’ve ran the world’s first Indigenous business accelerator program, Indigenous Startup Weekend and even started the first CoderDojo that specifically teaches Indigenous youth how to code. Barayamal officially begun in April last year (2017), and since then are work has been recognised through national awards like the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Early Career Award and the “Entrepreneurship Award” at the Indigenous Digital Excellence Awards.
According to recent research, Indigenous business leaders provide role models and leadership for other members of the community, which has a positive ripple effect in all communities… So help us build the future leaders of tomorrow to create a better Australia for all by donating to our cause.”
Dean served five years in the Royal Australian Air Force before founding Australia’s Indigenous business accelerator, Barayamal – now known as a world leader in Indigenous Entrepreneurship. Dean is an action-oriented entrepreneur, former-Microsoft RAP Advisory Board Member, CSIRO STEM Award Winner, Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Entrepreneurship Award Winner, and proud Kamilaroi Man from Gunnedah, NSW.
- August 2016 -Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event that had over 40 aspiring Indigenous Entrepreneurs attend to learn how to start a business in a weekend and achieve their self-determination aspirations to break the poverty cycle and help their communities through entrepreneurship.
- November, 2016 – Australia’s first Indigenous Business Accelerator Program was run in collaboration with Slingshot, which educated and supported five Indigenous startups over a four week period in Fishburners.
- April, 2017 – with the help of Australia’s leading law firm, Clayton Utz helped Dean to incorporate Barayamal as a legal entity and secured charity status to help Barayamal increase its social impact.
- May, 2017 – Barayamal organised Australia’s first Indigenous charity hackathon called Give Backathon, which helped four Indigenous charities overcome challenges and increase their social impact by providing tech-based solutions.
- June, 2017 – first Entrepreneurship and Coding workshop delivered by Barayamal for 20 Indigenous youth in Brisbane.
- June, 2017 – Barayamal’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program is announced to support Indigenous Entrepreneurs, which will provide free working space at Australia’s largest community of scalable tech startups (Fishburners) and an Entrepreneurship Development Program (mentoring from successful Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs, workshops and training by Barayamal) for 3-months in Brisbane and Sydney.
- August, 2017 – CoderDojo First Nations is launched to inspire and empower Indigenous Youth with confidence and opportunities to achieve their dreams and create a better world for all who live in it. CoderDojo First Nations is a nationwide network of coding clubs aimed at Indigenous Australians.
- September, 2017 – Barayamal Founder, Dean Foley is appointed to the Microsoft RAP Advisory Board to provide valuable insights and advice to help Microsoft achieve its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Objectives in Australia.
- September, 2017 – Dean is announced as the winner of the Entrepreneurship Award at the 2017 Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Awards.
- November, 2017 – Dean is the first Indigenous Entrepreneur to be a Judge and Speaker at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in Australia – the world’s preeminent startup competition, which features 15-30 top early stage startups pitching top judges in front of a vast live audience.
- March, 2018 – Dean is announced as the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Professional Early Career Award Winner.
- May, 2018 – Dean is announced as the “Best Digital Storytelling by an Indigenous Australian” Award Winner at the 2018 Australian Not-For-Profit Technology Awards., which recognised the excellence in use of digital storytelling by an Indigenous Australian to positively connect with and impact local communities.
- June, 2018 – Barayamal organised the first First Nations Youth Summit in Brisbane, which explored how First Nations Youth can use technology and entrepreneurship to achieve their self-determination aspirations and help their communities. [Learn more…]
- September, 2018 – Barayamal successfully secured its first state contract to run the first Indigenous Accelerator Program in Victoria for LaunchVic.