Introduction: This resource sheet reviews the available literature on the key factors that have underpinned successful Indigenous entrepreneurs and community-based enterprises. It also explores the different characteristics of Indigenous entrepreneurs and community-based enterprises. Where possible, it also looks at the outcomes of government programs that have aimed to help these different types of Indigenous businesses. For the purposes of this resource sheet, the term ‘Indigenous entrepreneurialism’ (or ‘entrepreneur’) has been used to refer to Indigenous-owned private and commercial businesses that are run for a profit. Likewise, the term ‘community-based enterprise’ has been used to refer to businesses that have a more communal purpose (they are also known as ‘community-managed’ and ‘social’ enterprises). The two terms used in this resource sheet are defined below and were selected for convenience and because they were commonly used in the literature.
Indigenous economic development is defined as the involvement by Indigenous people in employment, business, asset and wealth creation in the communities and regions where they live. One key aspect of improving Indigenous economic development is through Indigenous people operating their own private businesses or community-based enterprises (refer to the definition above). In the case of successful Indigenous entrepreneurs, self-employment and ownership of enterprises is believed to help individuals, families and communities improve self-sufficiency and decrease reliance on government welfare.
This resource sheet is based on a literature review of approximately 30 sources. The review process used various search terms (for example, Indigenous economic development/Indigenous business; social enterprises, entrepreneurship) and research databases containing peer reviewed articles (AIFS Library catalogue; all of the EBSCO and Informit databases and collections) and general online resources from government or Indigenous community organisations.