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Getting Yolŋu Into Business

Four years ago Why Warriors P/L (WW) responded to a call from 15 leaders of different Yolŋu families at Galiwinku, on Elcho Island, to come and work with them to help them start their own businesses. To do this WW deployed a non-profit pilot called […]

Four years ago Why Warriors P/L (WW) responded to a call from 15 leaders of different Yolŋu families at Galiwinku, on Elcho Island, to come and work with them to help them start their own businesses. To do this WW deployed a non-profit pilot called the Arnhem Human Enterprise Development (AHED) Project. We asked these leaders, “Why should we (WW) come here and not to one of the other communities in Arnhem Land?” Their response was telling. One of them said, “See us all standing here, we all have business plans (paid for by Indigenous Business Australia) but none of us have a business. We need someone like you or Tim (WW staff), who understands us, speaks our language and knows our Law to walk beside us and teach us the steps”.

For Yolŋu to get into business a little more is needed than a bureaucratic process of having business plans written up. We needed to work with the people on the ground in real life situations and face together with them the everyday challengers and blockages they face in putting their dreams into action. This we have done over the last 4 years.This has allowed us to discover that many Yolŋu are born entrepreneurs and want to be in business. We have also seen that there are identifiable (mainly dominant culture) blockages that can be overcome.

This report comes at a time when many are looking for new ideas to fill the gap created by the closure of the alumina processing plant at Gove (Nhulunbuy). Our AHED project was never designed to answer this crisis, but part of a long term commitment in working to empower Yolŋu people. Yet we have identified over 40 industries that could be up and running in many different locations across north-east Arnhem Land; potentially hundreds of businesses. Getting Yolŋu into business might be the big answer to so many of the social and economic problem that exists across the region!

To read more, click here for the full report: Getting Yolngu Into Business G FINAL (1)

For more information about the AHED Project, watch our short introductory video clip or see the AHED website.

Richard Trudgen for Why Warriors P/L © March 2014