Inside Brisbane’s Indigenous Startup Program by Rae Johnston

Five innovative First Nations startups have been selected to attend a “mini” four-week business accelerator program at The Capital, the recently opened dedicated venue in Brisbane’s CBD for digital technology startups and entrepreneurs.

The program is offered by Barayamal, a new not-for-profit business, which will run Australia’s first First Nations accelerator program in mid-2017.

Barayamal means “Black Swan” in the Kamilaroi language and the goal of the program is to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people build successful businesses through entrepreneurship training and programs.

Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but before that, Europeans had only known of a white swan. In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovative businesses. Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and that they can also build global businesses.

CEO of Barayamal, Mr Dean Foley, said an accelerator typically helps startups gain access to business networks, knowledge, expertise and early-stage funding they need to build successful businesses.

“Now Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs will have their own accelerator to turn to for such support. The support will also include world-class entrepreneur programs from Australia’s leading corporate accelerator, Slingshot and will offer one-on-one mentoring with successful Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs,” Mr Foley said.

CEO of Slingshot, Karen Lawson explained “We are delighted to partner with Barayamal to create new opportunities for indigenous founders to grow and accelerate their business. We are passionate about diversity and inclusion and are excited by the opportunity to address this within the indigenous community”.

The full Barayamal Indigenous accelerator startup program, set to kick off mid-next year, will be similar to the mini accelerator program but will be more intensive, provide early seed funding and run for 12 weeks.

The programs will initially be held at Fishburners, a new business co-working space within The Capital, with the goal of expanding the Barayamal Indigenous accelerator startup program nationally in the future.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk officially opened the Capital on 20 October 2016 and said “The Capital will continue Brisbane’s momentum as a centre for innovation in the Asia Pacific region.”

Building a Community of Indigenous Entrepreneurs

Mr Foley said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs can make a valuable contribution to this momentum towards innovation if they build and grow companies with a global impact.

“The Barayamal Indigenous accelerator program wants to help Indigenous entrepreneurs achieve just that,” Mr Foley said.

The accelerator programs come in the wake of the success of Australia’s first Indigenous Startup Weekend, co-organised by Mr Foley, which took place on 26–28 August 2016 at the State Library of Queensland.

We will be following the startups involved and give you further details about their plans as they come to light.

Indigenous Entrepreneurs

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