Indigenous consultant Kira-Lea Dargin understands the hurdles First Nations women face in business when it comes to achieving economic empowerment.
The owner and founder of Willow and Co Organics is so passionate about creating a platform to give First Nations businesswomen economic sustainability she started up the Indigenous Women in Business Network (IWBN).
The IWBN, which is a social initiative of the Aboriginal-owned company Dimeo Indigenous, is set to be launched on January 31 in Sydney.
"Entrepreneurship among Indigenous women is often overlooked," Ms Dargin told National Indigenous Times.
"So, I felt a strong calling to create a platform that would not only showcase our businesses but also provide a supportive network to elevate our voices.
"Our women have long been the backbone of our communities and our contributions in the business world can often be overlooked.
"I firmly believe that when we empower Indigenous women in business, we empower our families and our communities and we are not just creating successful businesses but are cultivating leaders, change-makers, and advocates for future generations."
The proud Wiradjuri woman and mother-of-three said while First Nations women are confronted with several challenges to be successful in the business world, she refused to use the word "barriers".
"I don't believe in looking at things as a barrier, barriers stop you, they act as a block…challenges can be overcome," she said.
"Despite systemic challenges and stereotypes in the business world, we are trailblazing women who exemplify courage, determination, and perseverance. We naturally know how to turn adversity into opportunities.
"Our journeys are a testament to our resilience; we will all face challenges at some stage of business." IWIBN is about supporting each other during those times.
The 33-year-old's motivation for herself and other Indigenous women to succeed in business is borne out of her remarkable sporting career.
In 2019, she became the first Indigenous woman in history to play at a professional level in gridiron as part of the USA Women's Football Alliance.
"My achievements in footy have fuelled my outlook on life," she said.
"Playing at an international football level showcases the power of dedication, teamwork, and relentless pursuit of success. I'm a little slower on the field these days but the thrill of win fuels my drive as a business owner, a new contract is like winning a footy game, each unique, uplifting and incredible but then also a reminder to focus on what's next."
Ms Dargin, who is a managing director at both Dimeo Indigenous and Yurung Cultural Services, said it was paramount that First Nations women entrepreneurs gained prominence in the business world.
She said not only will a strong Indigenous female business sector dismantle stereotypes but also adds crucial diversity in the corporate landscape.
"Empowering our businesswomen contributes to economic sustainability within Indigenous communities," she said. "Our success sets inspiring examples for future generations.
"For First Nations women is not just a matter of representation; it's a catalyst for equitable growth, innovation, and the holistic empowerment of marginalised communities."
Ms Dargin has one simple piece of advice for any young First Nations women looking at starting up a business: "grab the bull by the horns".
"In a male-dominated environment, our voice is not only valid but essential," she said. "Trust your capabilities, leverage community support, and don't shy away from being your authentic self.
Your journey as an entrepreneur or business owner not only shapes your success but contributes to your family's well-being.
"You're not just breaking barriers; you're paving the way".
If you would like to be involved in the Indigenous Women in Business Network email [email protected].