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EXCLUSIVE: Opportunity awaits as NT hosts 2025 World Indigenous Business Forum

David Prestipino -

Increasing global trade and investment in Australia's flourishing Aboriginal business sector are the prime targets for event organisers after it was announced the Northern Territory would host the 2025 World Indigenous Business Forum.

The forum will put First Nations organisations in Australia in the box seat to promote their businesses and leverage the sector's recent growth and expansion with Indigenous business leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates from around the world.

The Northern Territory Indigenous Business Network, which represents Indigenous businesses across the NT, will host the event in partnership with Larrakia Nation, Indigenous Business Australia, and the NT Government.

NTIBN chief executive officer Jerome Cubillo, a proud Larrakia and Wadjigan man, told National Indigenous Times hosting the forum, which usually attracts 1000 delegates from up to 20 countries, is an incredible opportunity for Aboriginal businesses.

"We are going to showcase what deadly black businesses here have to offer our First Nations brothers and sisters across the world," he said on Friday.

"International trade, commerce and investment aren't new concepts to our mob. We've been doing it since time immemorial, with Indonesians, the Chinese, but as well as internally amongst our own tribes and groups."

Mr Cubillo said he was keen for Australia's Indigenous business sector to use the event to establish and renew international trade partnerships.

"We're keen to get our mob and businesses to lift their gaze, to see the opportunities in international export and trade, and working with other First Nations partners who want to come on this journey with us," he said.

WIBF organisers said the forum was growing each year but Mr Cubillo said they were already anticipating a big turnout from First Nations delegatesn for the forum down under, which will be in Darwin on Larrakia country in late August, 2025.

"They are already nervous, they know this is going to be the biggest yet," he said.

Mr Cubillo said NTIBN and the NT government would engage the Native American Business Association, which promotes economic development and opportunities for Native American businesses across the US and Canada, as a potential partner to help facilitate future trade agreements, investment and partnerships in that region.

"We don't want a talk-fest you know, the usual thing; we want to sit down and discuss how we can tap into each other's economies and knowledge and create meaningful, commercial partnerships," he said.

"Let's talk deals, let's look at opportunities... we want real progress."

Mr Cubillo said the timing could not be better for First Nations businesses in Australia to leverage the growth in the sector, which was four per cent compared to three per cent for non-Indigenous Australian business the past financial year.

"We need to let Aboriginal business be what it is - commercial, for profit - we don't want to keep the government being a charity for Aboriginal businesses," he said.

"We want to see better policies at a federal level to support Aboriginal economic development, supporting businesses to be commercial, because that's how we're going to legitimately close the gap in this country, ourselves."

An Australian delegation will attend next year's event in Albuquerque, New Mexico to promote the 2025 forum in Australia and establish and further relationships with other Indigenous business leaders across the world.

The annual WIBF has been running since 2010 as a platform for First Nations business leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates to convene and promote Indigenous-led economic development.

Last year's forum in Colombia was attended by 1,000 indigenous businesses from more than 20 countries, with this year's forum in Papua New Guinea.

WIBF chief executive Rosa Walker said the event provided crucial connections and opportunities for isolated communities to reach their economic potential and create networks with other indigenous businesses, laying the pathway for future investment.

"The event really lets the host country showcase its rich cultural heritage, resilience, and potential for economic growth in the region," she said.

The event will see international delegates network with local entrepreneurs and government officials, with opportunities to form business partnerships.

Participants share their challenges and triumphs as indigenous entrepreneurs, and take workshops to further strengthen their businesses.

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