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First Nations entrepreneur Cheryl Bailey is helping to close the digital divide for Indigenous communities

Brendan Foster -

First Nations entrepreneur Cheryl Bailey says there are still barriers for Indigenous women when it comes to starting up a business but the mood in Australia is slowly changing.

The proud Muruwari and Kooma woman, who is the founder and managing director of the Sydney-based IT company Indigenous Technology, said the Australian business community, industry and government had a big role to play in enabling greater opportunities for First Nations women.

"Let's be honest, how many women First Nations people do you know are entrepreneurs, unicorns or ground breakers across the Australian tech industry?" Ms Bailey said. "I challenge why that is."

"I know of First Nations women who have so much knowledge to share, are very well educated and who would bring real strength to a diverse working culture in organisations large and small.

"I am happy to share from my experience the mood is changing for First Nations women, opportunities are being made available, but it is still few and far between."

Ms Bailey had a simple message for any First Nations women thinking about starting up a business: don't think your dreams are too big.

She said if you have a great product or service, you could build a successful business.

Since starting up her 100 per cent Indigenous-owned and operated company five years ago, Ms Bailey has gone from strength to strength having been nominated as a finalist for the 2023 Women in Digital Indigenous Leader of the Year Award, which will be announced on November 3.

Despite the recognition, she doesn't take her success for granted.

"I feel very fortunate because in all honesty, for a long time, I have been able to express my passion to become a technology ambassador for First Nations People," she said.

"I could see the untapped opportunity for First Nations peoples and people listened.

"I have had plenty of people support me along the way and I have learnt never to be afraid to ask for help."

Ms Bailey said one of the joys of her job was improving First Nations digital inclusion in remote areas.

First Nations people living in remote communities have some of the worst internet access in the country thanks to limited infrastructure and a lack of digital training.

"Nothing beats seeing the faces of our remote community with big smiles seeing virtual reality for the first time or bringing our First Nations talent together to receive a real start in their careers with the support of my business partners," Ms Bailey said.

"Behind the scenes, it takes enormous effort, time, expense and travel to connect with our remote regions and I can tell you that not everything always works to plan.

"The reward is far greater and I am unable to prove Indigenous Technology is making a real difference."

Ms Bailey said the technology industry is actively looking for Indigenous female entrepreneurs and there isn't a shortage of First Nations businesspeople who are willing to support and nurture their success.

"Indigenous Technology is about to enter its fifth year in service and one of the great things about my role is being able to mentor others, actively seek advice from outstanding talent across Australia and be an inspiration for First Nations Peoples who wish to enter the Tech Industry, particularly women," she said.

"Plenty of people have started up their own company and you will be surprised who will give you their time."

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