The Victorian Government has announced over $500,000 in funding to deliver three new initiatives aimed at creating growth for Indigenous Victorian small businesses.

Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford announced the funding for the state’s Indigenous business peak body, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce, and RMIT University to assist with the delivery of these projects, which include:

  • Kinaway appointing an Aboriginal Women’s Business Development Manager
  • Kinaway launching an Aboriginal business joint venture awareness program
  • RMIT University assisting in developing high-growth, export-ready Aboriginal businesses.

Kinaway CEO, Scott McCartney, said appointing an Aboriginal Women’s Business Development Manager will help foster growth and create more opportunities in the Aboriginal women’s business sector.

“The idea behind this position is that we can actually support Indigenous women businesspeople early in business … and to encourage young women in particular that going into business is a real viable option,” McCartney said.

McCartney said the person in the role will assist in making connections within community to help foster more opportunities for Indigenous women.

The CEO also told NIT the joint venture program, in partnership with non-Indigenous businesses, will help create more Indigenous businesses and increase competition for government and private sector contracts.

“Being mentored by a non-Aboriginal businessperson … is a really important part of the program,” McCartney said.

“We can get a framework for how joint ventures should look and create more jobs and sustainable viability for Indigenous businesses that eventually won’t need to rely on a joint venture partner.”

McCartney said this program will help Indigenous businesses employ others and scale up their business without Indigenous Procurement Policies being taken advantage of.

RMIT University is also working on an initiative to develop high-growth, export-ready Aboriginal businesses and is identifying which products Indigenous businesses can provide that might be of interest around the world.

“With the contacts that RMIT has with other institutions, in particular around the world … it’s about how they can actually find [and make] those opportunities work, the scale of businesses goes up and it actually helps deliver the needs of the rest of the world,” McCartney said.

McCartney believes the funding from the Victorian Government is “fantastic” and will help provide practical pathways to more jobs for Victorian Indigenous businesses that focus on women in business and business growth.

“These programs are laying the foundations that you can establish these businesses on and then scale up over a period of time, which would then create more employment opportunities and … hopefully create intergenerational wealth, which is something that our mob has never had before,” McCartney said.

The Victorian Government previously announced over $285,000 in funding to support Indigenous businesses during COVID-19.

Minister Pulford and Minister Williams were contacted for comment, however, no response was received by time of publication.

By Grace Crivellaro