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  Picture:Nicole Emanuel

Picture:Nicole Emanuel

Deputy Chairman's Successful Melbourne Visit

The announcement of the ISX's award as a laureate of the Tech Museum in San Francisco generated a number of media articles. The best was Larry Schwartz' profile of Kevin Fong and the ISX in The Age newspaper.

Kevin Fong, the deputy chairman of Australia's Indigenous Stock Exchange, in the Melbourne offices of Rio Tinto yesterday to organise the next mobile trading floor.

Kevin Fong laughs at the memory of an older brother persuading him to do a chore. "I can remember him saying to me, 'Jeez, you've got wonderful fingers. I'll teach you how to play the guitar'."

Second youngest of 17 children, Mr Fong says he discovered early that you needed to barter skills to survive in such a large family.

The approach has stood the 41-year-old Broome-based entrepreneur in good stead in an award-winning venture that has generated up to $200,000 for Aboriginal businesses.

Mr Fong is deputy chairman of Australia's Indigenous Stock Exchange that has held trading floors in Canberra, Mossman in north Queensland and Broome in the past year. It plans to create 1000 indigenous businesses by 2011.

The world's first mobile trading floor, which convenes in indigenous communities to enable entrepreneurs to put forward ideas for businesses and investment, was this week named one of 25 2004 laureates by the Tech Museum of San Francisco. It was chosen from 320 applications from 80 countries and is in line for a $US50,000 ($A72,000) prize.

Mr Fong helped co-ordinate the trading floor in Broome earlier this year when 37 enterprises and organisations presented cases live and via webcast to the investment community at conference centres in about 150 other sites around Australia and two overseas.

Mr Fong was in Melbourne yesterday with voluntary secretary, Peter Botsman, to organise the fourth trading floor, to be held at Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton on November 19.

A former shire president of Broome, Mr Fong is of Torres Strait Islander, Malaysian, Chinese and Irish descent.

"I'm a true indigenous, multicultural Australian," he says, interviewed in the offices of Rio Tinto, which is providing business coaching and has made available its London office for a video conference during the trading from Shepparton.

Dr Botsman says about 157 business ideas have been floated on the trading floor since their start in May 2003 and the ISX venture aims to create "something like the Bendigo Stock Exchange, (with) a number of indigenous companies operating and calling for investment in the form of shares".

Speaking from Cairns, ISX chairman Gerhardt Pearson said businesses involved included tourist operations, cattle stations and artists that would rarely be backed by institutions.

He said he was surprised to discover on a visit to Shepparton "how disenfranchised Aboriginal businesses were from the rest of the community".

Paul Briggs, president of the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club, said 80 per cent of Shepparton's 6000 indigenous community were unemployed.

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