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Inspiring Aboriginal Entrepreneurs

Curiosity. Confidence. Risk taking. They’re all personality traits associated with successful entrepreneurs. With that in mind, Australia’s largest Aboriginal-owned Office Products company Kulbardi recently launched the Kulbardi Entrepreneurs Program (KEP) in Perth.

“There’s not much difference between the behaviour of some Aboriginal men and women across Australia and business men and women in the boardroom. They’re both street-smart, curious and risk takers. What we want to do is harness those qualities and point them in the right direction. For them high-risk ventures can often seem like a better option than playing it safe and remaining where you are,” said Kulbardi CEO, Kim Collard.

The KEP model is a practical, empowering 10 day program for Aboriginal men and women to learn about enterprise creation and enterprise pathways. The KEP model is funded by the Kulbardi Fund; the Community-giving arm of Kulbardi. CEO of Kulbardi, Kim Collard said:
“The Kulbardi Fund was set up to design, fund and leverage community programs that have long-term outcomes. We want to create sustainable programs that really have an impact in the Aboriginal community.”

“KEP is kind of like an intervention, we want to provide a program that could lead to a sustainable means of employment. We want them to learn how to create their own business in a practical way.” As part of the program the participants learned how to pitch their idea to a panel of judges that included Nicky Firth VP of HR from Rio Tinto, Guy Chalkley CEO of Western Power, Aboriginal entrepreneur and founder of Kirrikin fashion accessories Amanda Healy and Karen Carter from the Small Business Development Corporation.

“Rio Tinto is pleased to support this unique initiative. The program strongly aligns with our community investment vision and our overarching commitment to support Aboriginal Western Australians,” said Rio Tinto General Manager Communities and Communications, Linda Dawson.
The business ideas varied from fashion to funeral services and the quality of the presentations was extremely high. The judging panel selected Bunbury resident Naydeene Edwards to receive a seed funding package that included a cash prize from Toyota Fleet Management, as well as branding and financial management pro bono support from The Brand Agency and Western Power.

“This is a very exciting project which is why we’re more than happy to give up our time, share our experiences, offer advice and answer the questions that the students had.” said The Brand Agency General Manager, Nick Bayes.

Naydeene’s business idea “Are You House Ready?” offers workshops and a consultancy service to take people from homelessness to home ownership.

“I wish to say a huge thank-you to Kim and the Kulbardi program, all the corporate sponsors and all the supporters of this wonderful program. KEP not only assisted me to bring my plan into context, for me it also provided me with the direction I needed to bring it all together as one. It gave me the tools and advice that was needed to run a business. Not only did we meet great inspiring entrepreneurs, but we built connections to inspiring people who have now become wonderful friends, and that itself is priceless. This program has opened up more opportunities than I had ever expected.

”The Kulbardi Fund acknowledges the additional sponsorship provided by Rio Tinto, Toyota Fleet Management, Morris Corporation and Western Power.

“Our goal is to get organisations excited about KEP so they want to come on as ongoing partners where we can guarantee to run the program every year or even twice a year. Then we can steadily grow the number of Aboriginal people in business,” said Kulbardi CEO, Kim Collard.

Shaun Palmer Executive General Manager – WSB of Morris Corporation commented, “Morris is proud to support KEP, which is in line with our commitment to provide meaningful opportunities for Aboriginal people to develop and grow within a supportive and collaborative environment.”

The Kulbardi Fund is managed by The Fremantle Foundation.  Fremantle Foundation Logo