Small Business Blossoming in Cape York
By Indigenous Stock Exchange
The indigenous small business sector in Cape York is experiencing a boom. The combination of years of preparation, specialised planning support, and the innovative mechanism of the Indigenous Stock Exchange
(ISX) has produced the critical mass necessary to start local people rolling in the direction of economic independence. The recent ISX trading day in Broome has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of investment being pledged to new business throughout the Cape.
"This is a very exciting development," says Gerhardt Pearson, Executive Director of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation. "It hasn't happened overnight. It has taken a long period of supporting local entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, conduct feasibility studies, and get them to a position where they can gain the confidence of investors".
Cape operations that delivered presentations at recent trading day
include: Malabama Tours which is the first indigenous owned and operated tourist enterprise to provide a link with other indigenous tours and walks in the region from Cairns to Cooktown; Northern Indigenous Pastoral Alliance (NIPA) that brings together Cape York and Kimberly pastoralists and is working on a franchise model to improve management practices; Yaba Yabaju which operates from Cooya Beach near Mossman and specialises in coastal habitat walks, interpretive talks, night spearing and fishing; and Walker Family Tours at Wujal Wujal who presented via the website their "bush walk" with a difference at Thompson Creek and Bloomfield Falls.
As is the case with any remote area, people in the region have limited access to specialist advice. With partners that include Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships, Westpac Bank and Boston Consulting Group, Balkanu's Business Hubs have provided planning support and advice to scores of emerging indigenous businesses, including those listed above. With offices in Cooktown, Coen and Weipa, and plans to expand to the Northern Peninsula Area and South Western Cape, the Hubs are easily accessible to the people who need them most.
"The good news is that it is gradually getting easier," says Mr. Pearson. "The success of one business opens an opportunity for someone else. This is true in terms of simple economics, but more importantly the psychological barriers are being broken down. People move from feeling powerless, to realising that it is possible to build themselves and their families a business, and that they will get the support they need. This is a fundamental change we're seeing."
While the Business Hubs provide expertise and pass on management skills, access to capital has hindered the expansion of many operations. The ISX gives small business people the chance to present the potential of their operations to investors from all over the country via the web-streaming of the trading floor to multiple state capitals and regional centres. The result has been significant injections of funds, and greater awareness of the opportunity for growth in the region. A major investor is expected to visit Cape York within the next two months.
"Business is based on relationships," says Balkanu's Executive Director. "One of the best outcomes from an event like last months trading in Broome was that it brought indigenous operators from across the continent together to share ideas, and be inspired by each others success. The policies of the past kept Aboriginal people isolated from each other, which has restricted our opportunities. We're reversing that process and beginning to see the benefits."
Balkanu business unit acknowledges the funding and support provided by The Department of State Development and Innovation and Department of Employment and Workplace Relations in enabling us to provide these business services to the people of Cape York.
Gerhardt Pearson, Executive Director, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation - 0419 773 433
Tony Varnes, Business Unit Manager, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation - (07) 4051 9089 firstname.lastname@example.org
Francis Walker, Walker Family Tours - (07) 4060 8069
Linc and Brandon Walker, Yaba Yabaju - (07) 4098 3437
For further information
||Gerhardt Pearson, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation
||0419 773 433