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$120,000 scholarships for Indigenous women who mean business

David Prestipino -

The push to have more Indigenous women employed as leaders across the business sector has been boosted by a new partnership to help foster their development.

First Nations Economics and First Nations Foundation on Wednesday announced a $120,000 scholarship for women studying finance and business.

The Indigenous-led, Supply Nation non-profit organisations said the Leah Armstrong Scholarship would direct two scholarships of up to $20,000 per year for three years to Indigenous women pursuing full-time education at universities or tertiary institutions.

Designed to drive economic prosperity for Indigenous communities through the education of First Nations women and girls, the scholarship is named after trailblazing Torres Strait Islander woman and First Australians Capital chair Leah Armstrong.

Ms Armstrong said the program would help boost the number of Indigenous female employees in under-represented sectors such as economics, finance, business and community governance.

"First Nations women play a critical role in their families and communities as leaders, nurturers and knowledge holders ... however they are less represented in the labour force and are even more under-represented in professions such as finance and economics," she said.

Ms Armstrong, who has forged a 25-year career across business and NFPs, said it was critical Indigenous females interested in a career in finance were supported, as their employment would have widespread positive effects.

"By creating more opportunities for First Nations women to study and work in these areas, we will also drive greater outcomes across the entire community," she said.

Ms Armstrong said her work approach was influenced by other trailblazers such as Body Shop founder Anita Roddick.

"She did business for good, with a focus around shared value and business being a way of creating not just financial wealth, but community and social wealth as well," she said.

"I have always felt a strong sense of needing to give back to the community."

First Nations Foundation chief executive Phil Usher said he believed greater outcomes for Indigenous communities occurred when they took control of their futures.

"Both Indigenous-led charities are dedicated to working with First Nations communities to empower local economics and build social return on investment," he said.

First Nations Economics managing director Rick Macourt said the organisation was proud to help foster positive outcomes for Indigenous women and the industries they worked in.

"Supporting First Nations women to lead transformation in areas such as government, financial services, and within their communities is key to long-term, sustainable change that places our communities in the driving seat," he said.

Applications for scholarships open today until January 29 next year, with more information on the program and enrolment available online.

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