INDO - PACIFIC
Aboriginal Australian (Bunuba) Construction Enterprise Project
The Bunuba people are an indigenous tribal community who have lived in a very remote region in northern Australia for 70,000 years. They were impacted by British colonialism for the past 200 years and have been isolated from participating in the economy. This has resulted in a lack of prosperity, poor health and education, no employment and little future for young people.
At the time the community were engaged, they had an increasing number of youth suicides.
The community had very few technically trained adults and the young people struggled with education. For them to participate in the economy they would need to build a business and increase employment opportunities, however, they did not have the capability to deliver a modern business that meets market demand.
The community location is very remote being 2,880 kilometres from the nearest city and surrounded by wilderness, tropical vegetation and rivers with large fish and crocodiles.
The first strategy was building a relationship with the community and trust with the leaders. We then introduced the community to the fact they had been entrepreneurial for thousands of years and it would be beneficial if they recognised that they have been traders, innovators and inventors throughout their ancestry. “You were among the first business peoples on this earth”.
Community leaders are advised to protect culture, language and traditional practices (dances, songs, stories, etc) and that they can grow and own a business without losing the culture.
A workshop with the community identified different enterprises they may consider developing. They decided on the construction industry and wanted a building company. We showed them there was demand for building companies in the region. They established National Aboriginal Construction Partners (NACP).
To offer them building capability, we evaluated some mature non-indigenous owned building companies and invited them to form a joint venture company with the Bunuba community. One building company was selected and they formed National Aboriginal Construction Partners Projects (NACPP). The Bunuba community own the majority of the company.
Today the NACPP has a revenue of around USD $76 million. It has six offices across the country and employs and trains young indigenous people in the construction industry. Bunuba profit goes back to the community.
Aboriginal Australian (Victorian Federation) Construction Enterprise Project
The indigenous peoples of Victoria in southern Australia lived on their lands for 70,000 years until they were forced onto reserves, and many killed, by British colonialists. As the province economy and non-indigenous population grew, more and more indigenous people were taken from their families and moved off their lands.
This situation left the families separated, cultures were threatened and, in some cases, extinguished. The indigenous peoples were left isolated from the
population and, even up to the present time, were not participating well in the economy.
The indigenous community of Victoria did not recognise business or trading as part of their heritage, they saw it as a non-indigenous activity.
The young people were becoming disengaged from their culture and struggling to have a vision for the future.
The first step is building a relationship with the community and trust with the leaders. Then introduce the community to the fact they had been entrepreneurial for thousands of years and it would be beneficial if they recognised that they have been traders, innovators and inventors throughout their ancestry. “You were among the first business peoples on this earth”.
We met with all the indigenous communities who came together as a federation and were invited to establish an enterprise. We workshopped the possible industries and considered the supply and demand. The communities decided on construction as it allowed for skilled and unskilled young people to participate.
We researched for a joint venture partner, a mature building company who were willing to help start an indigenous owned business and grow them for the future. This led to a company called Cockram partnering with the communities to build Barpa Construction. Barpa means in the indigenous language, ‘to build’.
Barpa Construction is majority owned by the indigenous communities and has a revenue of USD $88 million. It has seven offices now around the nation and delivers for both public and private sector clients.
Papua New Guinea Cocoa Agribusiness Project
The indigenous communities in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, are subsistence cocoa farmers. They live in poverty and do not understand how to improve their prosperity.
The women do most of the daily farm work and care for the children. The farming methods are poor and lead to very low production of cocoa.
The women were largely exploited, the farming methods were poor and did not return much money to the families and the children had no real future.
i2i recognised the community prosperity would improve if they improved their farming methods and if the farmers formed themselves into a business, owned by all of the farmers. Each farmer as a shareholder.
i2i attracted some funding to support the establishment of a farmer owned Agriculture Company which would develop improved cocoa farming methods, teach farmers about business and finance and empower the women and youth.
i2i engaged an indigenous Aboriginal-Pacific Islander female professional to work with the farmer's wives and improve their understanding of markets, leadership and business so that they were more informed and empowered.
The women were encouraged to grow herbs and spices in between the cocoa to supply a company located in the PNG capital city.
The farmers combined and launched the PNG Agriculture Company. The company has brought in advisors to commence improvements on farming methods, processing, business and finance skills, and penetration into the supply chain.
Pacific Islander Workers Program
The indigenous communities across the Pacific Islands live in poverty. There are 22 Pacific Island countries which comprise three indigenous ethnic groups, Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian.
The Australian Government designed a program to assist Pacific Islander people visit Australia and work seasonally so that they learned new skills
and gained an income to send money back to the family. Australian farmers have a demand for workers to assist with picking fruit and helping on the farm.
The indigenous families do not have access to employment and live a very subsistence life. In addition, climate change is impacting on the islands living conditions including rising sea levels, food and water.
The Australian Government provided USD $35.5 million to manage a program called Pacific Labour Facility (PLF Program) which manages the Pacific Islander workers in Australia. As the Islanders are indigenous, i2i advocated that an indigenous owned enterprise (Australian Training Works (ATW)) should be subcontracted to manage the Islanders when visiting Australia and offer them cultural exchanges, training and personal support.
The Government agreed that indigenous professionals would be effective and responsive when working with indigenous Islander people. I2i was engaged to deliver aspects of the Program. ATW understood skills training and employment issues relating to indigenous people and could apply their knowledge to the PLF Program.
Vanuatu Education Program
The indigenous peoples of Vanuatu largely live in poverty even though the Vanuatu Government want to improve the economy and health and education of the population.
Evaluations of the education standards of the students have indicated that the school leadership and teaching methods are inadequate and need to
be strengthened. Teacher training, school management, parental engagement and curriculum development needed to be improved.
Teacher training and in-service is assessed as inadequate and consequently, the teachers do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to improve the student outcomes.
The Australian and Vanuatu Government agreed to design and fund the Vanuatu Education Support Program (VESP) which would see indigenous teachers in Vanuatu capacity developed in curriculum design, numeracy and literacy, use of educational technology and teaching methods. The Australian Government funded USD $14 million to deliver VESP.
I2i advocated that university qualified indigenous teaching professionals would be more effective in delivering the Program that non-indigenous professionals. Indigenous teachers have pride in their culture and so do the teachers in Vanuatu and the local community.
i2i won a subcontract to deliver the Program and is sending female indigenous teachers, three from Torres Strait Islands and four Aboriginal Australians with Pacific Islander heritage. i2i will be delivering the services to the islands of Vanuatu for the next three years.