As the Charles Sturt Indigenous Entrepreneurship Scale Up Program commences this week, we had a conversation with Ged Bourke, the Innovations Programs Manager at Charles Sturt University AgriPark. He shared his inspiration and vision for the Indigenous Entrepreneur Scale Up Program.
The Program's Inspiration: “The origins of this program can be traced back to a prior partnership between CSU and Food Futures, with the aim of empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs in the fields of agrifood, native agrifood, and STEM careers”. As Ged described it, the program's focus is firmly on "supporting Indigenous participation in these sectors" with the goal of providing a highly valuable and tailored program for members of this community.
Primary Goals of the Scale-Up Program: This program is a second series, following on from our Indigenous Entrepreneur Program that launched earlier this year, it aspires to be a pioneer in developing scale-up strategies delivered in a culturally appropriate and relevant manner. It is specifically designed for Indigenous businesses that "already have a product or service in the market or an advanced prototype." The program, as emphasised by Ged, aims to "optimise market entry strategies and refine business models." This includes improving the promotion and communication of products and services to a wider audience. Additionally, the program serves as a platform for highlighting "opportunities for ongoing collaboration with the University, particularly in emerging research areas."
The Role of the Charles Sturt AgriPark: The Charles Sturt AgriPark is a multifaceted centre bringing together teaching, learning, research and innovation, enabling the University and communities of rural and regional NSW to thrive. According to Ged, the Charles Sturt Indigenous Entrepreneur Scale Up Program is an extension of this ethos. He explained that the AgriPark's role is to "connect researchers, industry, students, and the community, fostering a space for synergy”. Ged envisions the AgriPark evolving into a bridge that spans various research domains, including collaboration with their sister institution, the Gulbali Research Institute.
Building Relationships: Reflecting on the previous program, Ged expressed that "we've been privileged to be able to start building trust and fostering deeper engagement with the Indigenous community." Beyond individual progress, he noted that members from the inaugural early stage program were not only advancing in their entrepreneurial journey but also actively advocating for others to join. This has created a ripple effect of positive energy, fostering a sense of community and enthusiasm for these programs.
Exciting Opportunities and Long-Term Goals: Ged is enthusiastic about the transformative opportunities presented by this program. Ged’s aim is to address the underrepresentation of Indigenous founders in the agricultural landscape, as he believes that "the growth of Indigenous entrepreneurship is imperative to ensure that value is captured for the community."
In nurturing Indigenous entrepreneurship, this second series program, the scale-up edition in collaboration with Charles Sturt University, is positioned to provide valuable support to Indigenous entrepreneurs in the agrifood sector, facilitating their business expansion and promoting innovative ventures within the community.
Stay tuned for updates on our program journey!