A new Indigenous-led business network says there are many barriers impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business owners.

The newly established Queensland Indigenous Business Network (QBIN) is looking to build a strong and unified voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners across the state.

The newly appointed CEO is Donisha Duff OAM, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait woman from Thursday Island with family links to Badu, Moa and Mabuiag Island’s and the Wuthathi people of eastern Cape York.

“It depends where you’re at in the maturity of your business cycle,” she says.

Donisha Duff OAM is the Inaugural CEO of the Queensland Indigenous Business Network (QBIN), Image Supplied.

“If you’re a sole trader, you’re often by yourself, you don’t know what other people are doing.

Sometimes you need that peer support to say ‘what’s your schedule of fees, am I over charging?’.

I’ve talked to a number of people who don’t know whether or not they are charging correctly and what’s valued.

Our people in communities, valuing the time and effort that you put into the work that you do and making sure that that’s commercially competitive and that you’re not under selling yourself (is important.)”

She also says a survey of QLD Indigenous business owners conducted before she assumed the role highlights the need for support.

“Some of the feedback people were saying was that they didn’t feel like they were being heard or represented.

Sometimes when they applied for tenders they didn’t receive any feedback if they were unsuccessful, so they didn’t know where to improve themselves.

But also one of the bigger things is -and there is research out there too- that if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander running a business you’re more likely to hire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

But having staff that’s ready, that’s not coordinated or available at this time.”

There is also still the issue of ‘black cladding.”

Supply Nation defines it as ‘the practice of a non-Indigenous business entity or individual taking unfair advantage of an Indigenous business entity or individual for the purpose of gaining access to otherwise inaccessible Indigenous procurement policies or contracts’.

“You still hear things,” Ms Duff says.

“There’s a huge power imbalance when you’re dealing with a smaller Indigenous business up against a bigger non-Indigenous business who reaps the benefits of the tender.

And certainly that is going to be the role of QBIN and why we’re established to build the capacity of our businesses so we can collaborate amongst ourselves and win those tenders.”

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash