A trip to Far North Queensland to listen and learn

This week White Box Enterprises hosted a group of its supporting partners on a trip to Far North Queensland to meet local First Nations businesses and learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing these organisations in remote northern Australia.

Inspired by conversations with First Nations businesses, Darryl Majid who is leading White Box’s work in the region, curated the two-day trip to create more awareness for these enterprises, giving them the opportunity to start a dialogue with key stakeholders.

“These businesses are doing incredible place-based work in their respective regions, yet a lot of this is unknown beyond their communities, or happens without traditional funding and supports,” said Darryl.

“We wanted to create an informal way to bring together our partners with these organisations to connect and better understand their growth plans and the challenges they face.”

Repreentatives from MinterEllison, Macquarie Group Foundation, Vivcourt and Ochre Ventures had the chance to hear from 13 jobs-focused businesses over two days, 11 of which were First Nations-focused and led.

First stop was Cairns, coinciding with the launch of a new office space for White Box Enterprises in collaboration with Australian Spatial Analytics and Feraliser, a First Nations social enterprise Kalan Enterprises is developing with White Box’s support. Here, Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation, Fresh Start Academy, Eat Real Cairns, Wakaid Consultancy Automotive Training Program and Feraliser all shared a snapshot of their businesses as well as opportunities and roadblocks.

The group then headed north to Thursday Island, where local organisation Strait Experience provided a tour of the region, and the opportunity to meet with six First Nations businesses.

“This was an excellent way to understand local conditions, systems and network challenges.” said Keith Rovers, MinterEllison Partner and Chair of White Box Enterprises.

“It helps to contextualise how we can collaborate to bring our skills to bear, to add value and build capabilities and capacity, empowering self-determination and confidence.” Keith continues.

“Sitting on the end of a phone line or computer screen is just not the same.”

Over the past 12 months, through the support of John Villiers Trust and Queensland State Government, White Box has increased its engagement and support for First Nations social enterprises and businesses in Far North Queensland.

One of the key initiatives to deepen relationships with remote social enterprises was the Strong and Sustainable Program. Split across two regions – Far North and South-East Queensland – White Box worked closely with 10 social enterprises over a 12 -week period to help fine-tune business plans and create a roadmap for growth.

“Through the delivery of this program, we’ve been able to build trust and gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing these organisations. Access to networks and funding opportunities were two consistent hurdles.” said Darryl.

“These organisations don’t have the eco-system of support that social enterprises have in big cities. It’s our goal to help change this.”

To learn more about the work White Box is doing to mainstream jobs-focused social enterprise, head to our news page.