The largest start-up hub in Australia has teamed up with a local accelerator program to offer four “life-changing” scholarships to Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Sydney coworking space Fishburners, and pre-accelerator program for Indigenous Australians, Barayamal, are offering three months of free coworking space along with a range of professional development training for four Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs.
The four recipients can accept the scholarship in Brisbane or Sydney, where they will be located in the brand new $35 million Sydney Startup Hub.
They will receive access to Fishburners’ illustrious network of mentors, investors, funding sources and potential contacts, while also receiving free legal, accounting, marketing, design and PR advice.
This is a huge opportunity for budding entrepreneurs, Barayamal founder Dean Foley said.
“This life-changing opportunity will show you what it takes to start and grow a successful business,” Foley said.
“Barayamal’s mission is to accelerate the success of Indigenous entrepreneurs by providing a supportive environment, education and mentoring.”
Indigenous employment in Australia currently sits at just 48 percent, and less than 1 percent of all businesses in the country are Indigenous-owned.
Foley said it’s important to make the start-up community accessible for all to address this growing issue.
“Indigenous businesses are the high-growth and employment generation solution that will help close the disadvantage gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.
“They will replace incumbent government organisations with or without support or help.”
To apply, budding entrepreneurs will have to supply proof of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage, be operating a start-up that is less than two years old or have a business idea that could have a “positive effect in the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community”.
Applications for the program are open until the end of August.
The four scholarships stem from Barayamal’s Give Backathon which was held in May this year. The national charity hackathon helped four Indigenous charities by developing tech-based solutions to improve their social impact.
The prize for the winning team was a three-month membership at Fishburners for each member. In keeping with the spirit of the event, the team paid it forward and donated the prize back to Bayamal, leading to the creation of the new program.
The idea for Barayamal came to Foley following an Indigenous Startup Weekend that he ran in August last year. The event saw more than 80 Indigenous Australians formulate ideas and businesses centred on closing the gap and encouraging entrepreneurship in Aboriginal communities.
He then decided to take it the next level and launch an accelerator program focused on these entrepreneurs. The program launched late last year with the backing of corporate accelerator, Slingshot.
Barayamal means “black swan” in Kamilaroi language. Before being first seen by Europeans in 1697, they had only known the white swan. Foley said the name is meant to represent Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not yet been noticed in the world for their innovative businesses.
Barayamal’s programs have already been successful, despite a lack of adequate funding, he said.
“There is only so much you can do with limited financial support but we love what we are doing -- helping other Indigenous entrepreneurs achieve success and empowering youth with invaluable entrepreneurship and coding skills which benefits them and has a positive ripple effect within the community,” Foley said.