Indigenous Business Case Studies
Winya is a majority Indigenous-owned and staffed furniture supply company.
Greg Welsh, an experienced furniture maker, and Debbie Barwick, Chairperson of the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and a HR expert, created Winya Furniture, a furniture supply company.
Popular with government agencies and major corporations, Winya employs a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to develop traditional designs on fabric for use on office furniture such as workstations and seating.
Winya means 'sit now' in the Wiradjuri dialect but the company is doing no such thing – it has produced 100 per cent growth rates year-on-year for the past 3 years. This is mostly due to collaborations with government departments including the Department of Defence, Australian Taxation Office, NSW Health Department and international engineering company Laing O'Rourke.
"We went from nothing to five or six million dollars in sales in our third year," says Barwick.
As well as creating fabric designs, Winya artists also repurpose scrap timber to create sustainable, bespoke office furniture such as custom tables and seating. Sourcing materials and labour from remote communities means Winya creates employment opportunities in rural and regional Australia, supporting Indigenous training and employment along the way.
In 2018, the company was recognised for its work by achieving the United Nations Global Compact award for Sustainable Development Goals for the Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples.
"It was about as big an honour as it gets – being recognised on the world stage in front of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Crown Prince of Norway, the President of South Africa and even Michael Douglas!" says Welsh.