This year’s theme for Indigenous Business Month, held annually in October, is designed to celebrate the many forms of power Indigenous economies generate as part of everyday business. 

The 2021 theme Powering the Indigenous Economy, is a practical call out to the Indigenous business sector and its allies to connect, to take charge in conversations and activity that showcases the economic contributions of Indigenous businesses, individuals and organisations. It signals the need to tap into the entrepreneurial and innovative power that comes from Indigenous business. 

Now in its seventh year, Indigenous Business Month runs from 1 – 31 October as an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving the quality of life in Indigenous communities. 

Indigenous Business Month Co-Founder Michelle Evans said Indigenous economic power must be counted. Australians need to open our eyes to the power of the Indigenous economy. 

“The visibility of our economic contributions needs to extend past the narrow frame of GDP statistics where the value of goods and services that are traded are counted. In practice, Indigenous businesses provide more than this – they are a major source of innovation, mentorship, leadership, cultural knowledges and practices, community and cultural kinship, unpaid childcare, and volunteer work,” said Michelle MURRA Program Director and Associate Professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne. 

“The ingenuity of Indigenous Australians is powering the Indigenous economy. Our innovation springs from the bringing together of cultural knowledges, community intelligence and savvy market acumen.

“Indigenous entrepreneurial innovation manifests in our regions where communities are creating hybrid economic models like; Knowledge Water, a sustainably sourced and packaged spring water product, in North East Arnhem Land; Luggarrah in the western district of Victoria bringing interaction game technology for on country regional engagement; Embley Contracting who are the largest local Aboriginal Tier One contractor in Western Cape York providing numerous services including mine security, labour hire and are the largest bus transport provider in the region; as well as Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils in the Goldfields of Western Australia producing sandalwood oil from wood harvested on native title lands”. 

Indigenous Business Month Co-Founder Mayrah Sonter also wants to see Indigenous economic powerhouses across the country call out economic erasure of Indigenous Australia.  

“The powerful need to do their bit to create a more inclusive and sustainable Australian economy and that begins with the showcasing of our Indigenous economy”. 

“We recognise the surge in opportunity and wellbeing for our mob and others that comes from participating in and with the Indigenous economy,” said Mayrah, Co-Founder and Director of Aboriginal communications, media and events agency 33 Creative. 

Indigenous Business Month Co-Founder Leesa Watego recognises the power of the Indigenous Economy.  

“There is value in signalling the economic contribution made by Indigenous businesses, individuals, and organisations because it makes our economic power visible.” 

“Indigenous Business Month 2021 aims to amp up Australia’s engagement with Indigenous businesses, individuals and organisations,” said Ms Watego. 

This year Indigenous Business Month calls upon the Indigenous Business Sector and its allies to gather online and in community in Covid-safe ways, to power up the Indigenous economy through connection. 

Indigenous Business Month will be officially launched on 1 October 2021, with applications for Indigenous Business Month Awards now open and closing COB 4 October 2021. 

Applications For Indigenous Business Awards Now Open

Award applications are now open and we encourage nominations across four categories:

  1. I2I Award: Indigenous businesses buying from and/or supplying to fellow Indigenous businesses build an interconnected and strong Indigenous business sector by supporting each other. Instances of mentoring and peer-to-peer support or development of new ventures and/or initiatives are encouraged in this category. This award celebrates the commitment by Indigenous businesses to strengthen and grow our sector through trading and working together.
  2. Indigenous Digital Inventiveness Award: Indigenous digital inventiveness is maturing in Australia. Communities are more connected than ever through digital expression (emails, instant messaging and texting) and at a much larger scale through digital enterprise (business operations and technology). This award celebrates the intersection between cultural creativity, business nous, and technology.
  3. Indigenous Ingenuity Award: Indigenous business has a role to play in using business models to confront challenging community issues. This award celebrates an Indigenous business who is working hard to solve challenges in partnerships with Indigenous communities.
  4. Regional Indigenous Business Award:  Indigenous regional businesses contribute in very impactful ways to the economy and to the local community in which they are based. This award celebrates Indigenous regional businesses: their vision, their business savvy and their local contributions.

Indigenous Business Month Award applications open 1 September 2021 and close COB Monday 4 October 2021.

Indigenous Business Month community led events occur between 1 – 31 October. This year’s events are encouraged to be registered via the website and live streamed digitally using #IBM2021Live.

Resources will be available to support organisations, community and businesses hosting an event and marking Indigenous Business Month in their communications.

Everyone is asked to share Indigenous Business stories using #IndigBizMonth and follow social media platforms for the latest.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Indigenous Business Month Awards will be celebrated virtually on Thursday 28 October 2021.

The initiative is supported by 33 Creative, MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Program and Iscariot Media.