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World Indigenous Business Forum 2018

Sheena Graham, DFAT Assistant Director, Ambassador for the 2018 World Indigenous Business Forum

Indigenous businesses are like any other business. They deliver returns to investors like any other business. They grow and thrive based on the market like any other business. They contribute to the economy like any other business. However, the World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) highlights that indigenous businesses can achieve unique outcomes.

Indigenous leaders from across fifteen countries shared their views on harnessing business to drive social and economic development at the 2018 WIBF held in Rotorua, New Zealand on 9-11 October. The discussions reflected the shared heritage of cultural values that have sustained communities and their traditional lands for millennia.

Ministers and senior government officials from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala also met to discuss the role governments can play in growing the global indigenous business sector and supporting indigenous businesses to succeed in international trade.

Broadening networks was a theme of this year's forum. In the opening speech, New Zealand Minister for Maori Affairs Nanaia Mahuta committed to explore ways to deepen and widen the relationships between nation states and indigenous businesspeople, including through fora such as APEC and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Australian Government supported the participation of Indigenous business leaders from Australia and Papua New Guinea at this year's forum.

Participants included Indigenous Australian business leader Mikaela Jade, CEO of Indigital, who delivered a presentation on harnessing augmented and mixed reality to tell Indigenous stories. Kristal Kinsella of Indigenous Professional Services also spoke about Aboriginal women in senior business roles, and the resounding benefits that flow from this leadership to their families, communities, and countries.

The WIBF has also established mechanisms for ongoing collaboration through the World Indigenous Business Network. The Network seeks to unlock avenues for indigenous businesses to thrive around the world.

One example is work underway in the Network to design an Indigenous Investment Bureau. The project seeks to mobilise social impact investment in indigenous businesses and indigenous-driven economic development initiatives around the world. It aims to simplify the process of identifying investment-ready indigenous businesses and facilitate greater investment in opportunities that generate economic and social returns in line with indigenous community objectives.

The WIBF's achievements belie its short eight year existence. In partnership with, and under the leadership of indigenous leaders of Winnipeg, Canada, the first WIBF was held in New York in 2010. Subsequent forums have been held in Australia, Namibia, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, New Zealand and the US (Honolulu).

With the WIBF, its Network and support from governments behind it, the global indigenous business sector is moving from strength to strength. This progress is uniquely powered by indigenous leaders and communities with a common vision to achieve social, cultural and economic outcomes for indigenous peoples worldwide.

Group photo of 7 people at the World Indigenous Business Forum.
Participants at the World Indigenous Business Forum 2018. Credit: Sheena Graham.

Quote: Amanda Healy of Kirrikin

"As an Indigenous business person, it was so inspiring to connect with and see other businesses from around the world appearing in the most remarkable spaces! From high technology to craft based business, and everything in between. We are changing the world view one small business at a time!"

Last Updated: 9 January 2019
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