24 May 2023

First Nations entrepreneurs to present ideas at an innovation showcase

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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First Nations entrepreneurs, part of an inaugural program, are set to present their ideas at a showcase. Photo: DigtialStorm.

First Nations entrepreneurs are set to benefit from a program aimed at building businesses in the food and agriculture sectors.

Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneur Program, along with Food Futures Company, are assisting early-stage First Nations founders and entrepreneurs in developing their business ideas.

The CSU Innovation Hub simultaneously hosted two programs, the Indigenous Entrepreneur Program and the 10th Ready to Launch program.

CSU said participants from both programs were set to present their ideas at Innovation Showcase on Thursday (25 May).

Wagga Wagga-based participant, naturopath and sports nutritionist Felicity Kerslake is working on a program and an online platform that aims to teach people about First Nations food and native plants and how they can be used to attain health, energy and wellbeing outcomes.

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“The aim is to reconnect people with nature and culture, getting communities engaged with preventative health strategies to improve health outcomes and to nurture the country for current and future generations,” Ms Kerslake said.

Ms Kerslake had been working on her idea for several years before joining the program.

The entrepreneur said the program had turned her idea into a sustainable business model and that the connection to First Nations entrepreneurs has been beneficial.

Junee-based participant and co-owner of Yield LOT 7, Jackie Price, said when she heard about the program, she wanted to enrol and learn skills about how to manage the growth of her business.

“I had a business before that got too big for me,” Ms Price said. “I thought this program would give me some useful tips on planning and growth.”

Yield LOT 7 focuses on bringing Australian native herbs and spices to people’s attention by combining them with the iconic yabby.

“We hope that our use of the yabby will help farmers to see their dams not only as a water source for farming but its own ecosystem that can be profitable as well,” she said.

“This idea is not new, but the use of the shell and byproducts to make new food products is.”

Ms Price said as a First Nations person, she was always walking in two worlds and through the program, she had gained the confidence to speak openly about her idea in public.

“Understanding there is a different way to do business is always a step in the right direction for our people, their food sovereignty and the future of our people in general,” she said.

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CSU Innovations Hub manager Ged Bourke said it had been great to watch the participants progress in both programs.

“What’s stood out this time around is how engaged participants have been and how there’s been a real focus on concepts that are underpinned by a real sense of purpose and vision,” Mr Bourke said.

“Several concepts are based around sustainability, increasing access to the arts or undertaking agriculture or food production from a sustainable perspective.

“We’re really looking for the regional community to throw their support behind the event,” he said.

CSU invites staff, students and community members to attend Innovation Showcase. The showcase will be held at the Charles Sturt University Riverina Playhouse on Thursday 25 May, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Tickets for the free event can be reserved online.

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