The past decade has seen significant growth in the Indigenous business sector fuelled by landmark Commonwealth policies such as the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy. However, these policies have not succeeded in remote Australia where Indigenous economic participation through business creation is most needed.
This paper calls for an overhaul of the current approach. It outlines a practical model for business creation in remote Indigenous communities that harnesses the fundamental principle of supply and demand and what the authors identify as the three foundations of business creation — capability, entrepreneurship and business support.
The model could be implemented in one community or at scale. It could be repositioned out of existing programs and initiatives and could even pay for itself. For governments, it could be implemented without any additional funding beyond what is already allocated in these areas through reorganisation of existing structures and programs.
Remoteness is not the main problem. The natural cycle of supply-and-demand has been stifled by structures imposed on Indigenous communities — by legislation, by the legal framework for Indigenous lands, and by government programs — and the mindsets that have developed as a consequence.
The key requirement (and challenge) is therefore a mindset that understands — and more importantly believes in — business and entrepreneurship.