Prying open the doors: Dr Michelle Evans, Murra Program Director

I have been directing the MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program for four years now. It’s such an exciting program because it is a vehicle for groups of entrepreneurs to mobilise their vision for the future of Indigenous business in Australia. Each year we select a diverse group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs from across the country, mostly people and businesses we have never heard of, and we hold our breath waiting to see how this diverse group of business people might form into a collective.

I say ‘we’ because MURRA is driven by a team of passionate people from Melbourne Business School. My co-founder Professor Ian Williamson, our program managers Lan Hoang and Kate Brown, the faculty that teach the Master Classes. This team, as well as the dedicated front and back of house staff at MBS create a feeling of belonging for these unique groups each year. It is a feeling of belonging that I find myself interested in. MBS is an elite business school, having only graduated eleven Indigenous Australians through their programs in the fifty years leading up to the introduction of MURRA. MURRA has transformed MBS into a place for Indigenous business people and entrepreneurs; for Native Title holders and Traditional owners.

It is important to pry open the doors of these powerful institutions and make them consider human resource management, marketing, finance, negotiations, strategy and leadership from on Indigenous business perspective. The MURRA program is extensively an executive education offering that becomes contextualised by those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs that participate in the program. The brains trust of, on average around twenty, Indigenous entrepreneurs mobilises a collective dream – how we can embody the dream for Indigenous Australia – economically independent and culturally strong.

So this October, we hear the communal roar of seventy-one MURRA alumni. They have claimed social space naming October National Indigenous Business Month and each day across the month the public have the opportunity to learn about the diversity of Indigenous enterprise. Contrary to popular belief, Indigenous businesses are growing, are employing more Indigenous Australians than any other business type, and are doing strong business to business with other Indigenous businesses both in Australia and abroad.