Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth in Remote South Australian Communities

The freedom and independence of owning a business is a key driver for Aboriginal people to achieve economic inclusion and empower themselves. This is why Tanya Egerton, CEO of not-for-profit organisation Circulanation, co-designed Ignite, an early-stage entrepreneurship program that activates emerging entrepreneurs within remote communities to build their’readiness for business’ through culturally grounded, place-based experiential learning.

1. Creating a culture of entrepreneurship

There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. Technology has provided easy access to online tools that can help anyone start a business. It’s even easier to connect with customers, thanks to social media and online marketplaces.

Entrepreneurship is the process of exploiting a commercial opportunity, either by creating a new product or service or through the organisational improvement of existing ones. It is usually organized through the formation of a new company (a start-up) and is done under considerable personal and financial risk. It can also occur within an established small business that experiences a substantial change in its products or services.

Entrepreneurs create jobs and economic wealth. They contribute to an economy by discovering what consumers want and introducing them to new and innovative ideas that meet those needs. By generating greater demand for their products and services, entrepreneurs can also encourage other businesses to introduce new products and services into the market, further driving job creation and economic growth.

Many people choose to become entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons. Some may find it rewarding to be their own boss, while others enjoy the flexibility of working from home or on the go. For some, entrepreneurship provides an outlet for their creativity. Others may be motivated by a desire to make a difference in the world, or to pursue a dream they’ve always had.

While some people are naturally entrepreneurial, others can develop the necessary skills through education and training. For example, an aspiring entrepreneur can learn from mentors and other successful entrepreneurs, or take business courses and workshops that will teach them the fundamentals of starting and running a business. Entrepreneurship requires an individual to be innovative, creative and determined. It also requires the courage to take risks and be willing to learn from mistakes. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to experience setbacks and failures, but they often use these experiences to improve their future performance. It’s important for governments and communities to support entrepreneurs by providing the right conditions and resources. This will enable them to build resilience and grow their businesses.

2. Creating a culture of learning

Creating an environment that fosters learning is one of the key ways to enable Indigenous people to take control of their economic futures. Not-for-profit organisation Circulanation is responding to this challenge with its innovative Ignite program, a place-based entrepreneurship training course that builds individual and community ‘readiness’ for business through learning in their own language, on country. This is the first of a series of programs that will be led by local Aboriginal entrepreneurs, rather than non-Indigenous facilitators.

3. Creating a culture of support

Many remote people are not aware of business support services available to them. Those that do know of them often have trouble accessing the right level of support at the right time. This gap in support is most evident at the start of the business journey, where a lack of knowledge and skills leads to poorer outcomes.

One way to close this gap is to introduce more formalised business training programs into the remote education system. This is what the not-for-profit organisation Circulanation is doing by partnering with universities to co-design a program called Ignite that will provide early-stage business training and mentorship for Aboriginal people.

For Indigenous people, owning their own businesses offers a powerful opportunity to take control of their economic futures and make decisions that impact their families and communities. This is a significant reason why so many people in remote Australia are considering starting their own small business.

The work of this study was conducted in a number of communities that are classified as ‘remote’ by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with most of these located in very remote areas (ASGC RA 4 and 5). Congress board members and senior management were informed of each stage of research and two Congress staff served as associate researchers on the grant proposal and research project. Ethical approval for each research stage was obtained from the Flinders University and South Australian Health Research Ethics Committees.

As a public sector employee, you have a responsibility to ensure that your conduct at work meets the high standards set out in the Code of Ethics. These standards include service, professionalism, trust, respect and collaboration and are designed to help you be a thriving member of the public sector workforce.

4. Creating a culture of innovation

The public sector values of Service, Professionalism, Trust, Respect, Collaboration and Engagement, Honesty and Integrity, Courage and Tenacity form the foundation that you will be expected to embody in your work. These values will help to shape a modern, flexible, thriving public sector that is responsive to the needs of South Australians and the place of Government in enabling them to achieve their aspirations and goals.

South Australia is a state with an arid climate and is bordered on the west by Western Australia, on the east by Victoria and on the south by Tasmania. The capital city is Adelaide, and the major industries are health care services, education, agricultural production and manufacturing.

The state is governed by a bicameral Parliament consisting of the lower House of Assembly, known as the Legislative Council, and the upper House of Representatives. The legislative body is elected at the state election every four years. The first state-wide vote took place in 1851. Women’s suffrage in the state was enacted in 1895 and the first women were elected to the Legislative Council at the election of 1903.

In addition, there are three public universities in South Australia – the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia (UniSA). The university sector is supported by four private institutions – Torrens University Australia, Carnegie Mellon University – Australia, University College London – Australian Centre for Energy and Resources and Cranfield University.

South Australia is served by air, rail and road transport. The roads provide extensive interstate and regional connections, with the main highways linking metropolitan Adelaide to the national network. Rail transport is predominantly commuter oriented with Adelaide having the country’s largest and most comprehensive suburban railway system, which includes the suburban Metro rail network.

Despite the remoteness of many communities, entrepreneurship is a viable option for people from these areas. However, business support organisations are often not located in these communities for the time required to develop individuals’ and families’ awareness, skills and readiness to be self-employed. This lack of business support can also lead to an underdeveloped local economy that is reliant on large-scale external sources.