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Enterprise Learning Projects nominated for Indigenous Excellence in Telstra Best of Business Awards

Dianne Bortoletto -

Enterprise Learning Projects in the Northern Territory almost didn't make it through 2020. Now, ELP is one of 14 national finalists and one of three in the NT in the Indigenous Excellence category of the 2024 Telstra Best of Business Awards.

ELP empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs by offering tailored on-Country business support through its incubation and mentoring programs.

Chief executive Alexie Seller joined the organisation at the tipping point of closure.

"The organisation had no active team members and on my first week on the job, the COVID crisis began to take hold in Australia, and I also fell pregnant with my first child," Ms Seller said.

"It was an interesting way to start, but also gave me important time and space to reflect on where the organisation had come from, and what was needed to move forward at that time."

The past four years has been used to redesign ELP's business and its programs.

"The most critical decisions we made at that point were to commit to Indigenous leadership and board representation and rethink our business support programs to ensure that community entrepreneurs were empowered as leaders," Ms Seller said.

Since then, ELP has worked with 33 individuals to support their business development and provide them with skills, networks and knowledge to enable them to transform their communities through their local businesses.

"We are committed to generating opportunities for remote communities do this not only by directly supporting entrepreneurs, but also by being creative in how we enable new entrepreneurs to get started and demonstrate their ability."

Alexie Seller (ELP) and Samuel Daylight (Gulbarn Tea) in Minyerri

Alexie Seller (ELP) working with Samuel Daylight (Gulbarn Tea) in Minyerri. Photo: Supplied

One example was a young girl living on Elcho Island interested in starting a photography business, who ELP then engaged to be the official photographer for the First Nations Women in Social Enterprise forum in Nhulunbuy, Yolgnu country, East Arnhem Land.

"We've since heard that she has reconnected with her local women's space to borrow camera equipment, is booking customers and now looking for support to establish her business," said Ms Seller.

"We are successful at creating these opportunities because we look holistically at what we do and always consider how we can leverage our own organisation to create new and exciting opportunities. This approach runs deeply in our organisation, we are team who are committed, creative and connected and understand how these incremental steps lead to transformative change for the people we work with."

The Indigenous Excellence category is especially noteworthy, acknowledging Indigenous-owned, led, and operated small and medium-sized businesses that have succeeded through entrepreneurship, innovation, and inspiring the next generation of Australians.

State finalists of the Telstra Best of Business Awards will be announced on November 3, and the national winners will be revealed at the National Gala Dinner on February 8 in Sydney.

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