Brisbane is set to play host to Australia’s first Indigenous Startup Weekend in August, which will look to increase and promote Indigenous entrepreneurship.
To be held in the State Library of Queensland’s The Edge facility across August 26-28, the weekend aims to give aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs the skills and experience they need to launch a business within 54 hours.
The initiative is looking to address the unemployment rate of Indigenous Australians; according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 56 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of working age were participating in the labour force in 2011. However, with ‘participation’ incorporating those either working or looking for work, one in six were unemployed.
The gap between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations is big: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-64 were in 2011 less likely to be participating in the labour force than non-Indigenous people of the same age by a gap of more than 20 percent.
Self employment rates are also low: only approximately 6 percent of Indigenous Australians were self employed in 2011, compared to 15.2 percent of the non-Indigenous population.
The Startup Weekend will look to do its part to close these gaps by giving participants the opportunity to learn skills and gain experience in entrepreneurship by taking part in pitching, business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.
Speaking at the event will be Michael McLeod, cofounder and CEO of Message Stick, a company providing web, video, and audio conferencing services. It was founded in 2003 with the goal of showing Indigenous Australians can own and manage a services business that engages with large corporates and Government agencies.
McLeod will also judge the event alongside Wayne Gerard, cofounder and CEO of RedEye Apps. Coaches and mentors on the weekend will include Kaylene Langford, director of Startup Creative, Jesse T Martin, founder and director of Streets Movement Organisation, and Lynten Johnson, founder and managing director of online health service Health Collect.
The Startup Weekend is just one of a handful of initiatives to come out of the tech space so far targeting Indigenous Australians.
Car marketplace Carsales.com.au earlier this year launched the Carsales Foundation, which will look to boost diversity in the Australian tech industry through a Women in IT scholarship at Swinburne University and the Indigenous Scholarship at Curtin University.
Pollenizer and muru-D also partnered last year to host the Path to Digital workshop series for Indigenous entrepreneurs The workshops took groups of founders through a range of activities to help them validate their business ideas and turn them into digital businesses.
Image: Michael McCleod & Jane Halton, secretary of the Department of Finance, a Message Stick client. Source: Message Stick.