The gap in Indigenous business ownership

The gap in Indigenous business ownership

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Education rates of Aboriginal Australians may be behind the ‘gap’ in small business ownership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

 

According to Business Development Manager for the Department of Trade and Investment NSW, Craig Jenkins,  the long history of unemployment and low socioeconomic status in Indigenous communities means that Aboriginal people do not have the means to access small business.

 

“In my view and my experience, there are probably a couple of reasons for this,” he said. “First, Aboriginal people tend not to come from a background where the family is in a business, or even have worked.”

 

“The second reason is that Aboriginal people generally have less education or don’t achieve so well in education.”

Less than one per cent of small businesses in Australia are considered ‘Aboriginal-owned’ and just six per cent of Indigenous Australians are self-employed.

 

In comparison, sixteen per cent of non- Indigenous Australians are self-employed.

 

In fact unemployment in Indigenous communities is three times the non-Indigenous rate, and the rate of Indigenous people engaged in study is just as low.

 

Non- Indigenous people between the ages of 18 to 24 are employed or engaged in study at a rate of 84 per cent in New South Wales, while Indigenous people of the same age are employed or studying at a rate of 54 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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The rate of year twelve completion in the same age group is 72.6 per cent for non-Indigenous people and 28 per cent among Indigenous people.

 

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Most Indigenous students leave school in year ten or eleven and do not complete year twelve and only 40 per cent of have a non-school qualification like a degree or a TAFE Certificate.

 

Many Indigenous business owners say that even though rates of Indigenous business ownership have increased by 32 per cent since 2006, the stigma of the ‘lazy Aboriginal’ still exists in the minds of mainstream Australia.

 

Discrimination occurs on every level of a business, from owners to entry level employees and many Indigenous people find themselves unable to find a job, especially in non-Indigenous businesses which are 100 times less likely to employ Indigenous Australians than businesses owned by Indigenous people, according to Indigenous Business Australia.

 

Mr Jenkins says the Federal Government has a number of initiatives and programs in place so that the ‘gap’ can in business ownership can be filled.

 

“Indigenous Business Australia is a federal government initiative that specifically helps to establish Indigenous businesses and helps to fund them by way of loans,” he said. “Aboriginal businesses tend to find it hard to get loans from the traditional way- from banks.”

 

Keira Jenkins

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