Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program is blooming good
[by Greg Chapman]
Kerri-Ann Currie. Image: supplied
A Mackay-based landscaping and native plant business, dedicated to working with First Nations people to reconnect with Country, is blooming thanks to Arrow Energy’s Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program which is delivered by CQUniversity Australia.
Australian Indigenous Grasstrees & Wildflowers, which has operated since 2017, is owned by Kerri-Ann Currie and Nathan Nehow. Nathan is a Nywaigi man (Mungalla Station, Halifax), and Kerri-Ann is a Batdjala woman (Fraser Island/K’gari).
“We started the business for one reason – to get our First Nations men and women back in the bush working and connecting with Country,” Nathan said.
“The magic that comes with this is that we can learn about the traditional uses of the plants and flowers we work with and how we used these natural resources for things like food, shelter, clothing, hunting and medicine.”
Nathan also said the company has provided flowers for CQUniversity, the Mackay Hospital, Queensland Police Service Mackay, and some regional councils. They have also created gardens for local schools and with the mining industry in the Mackay region.
Kerri-Ann said they joined the Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program to learn from other like-minded First Nations business owners and entrepreneurs.
“We’ve been involved over the last few months, participating in the Wednesday night yarns and sharing what we learn with each other and how to engage with big business,” she said.
“The structure is good, and everyone seems comfortable participating. The program has helped us with connecting with other businesses and sharing our knowledge. I was able to share AIGW’s Capability Statement and assist others to get their own statements written.
“The Whanu Binal program is very informative and covers all aspects of getting started with running your own indigenous business. From start-up to established entrepreneurs you can either learn from others or share your own experience, gaining the knowledge you need for your own start-up or helping others. Either way, it is rewarding being a part of the Whanu Binal Program. Don’t be ashamed, cause we’re all the same. We are all learning here.”
Whanu Binal offers First Nations entrepreneurs, executives, managers and Traditional Custodians a chance to build upon their business and entrepreneurial skills through a virtual yarning space, Indigenous learning styles, experienced mentors and the opportunity for networking with peers and business accelerator organisations.
Although the program partnership with CQUniversity launched in 2020, Arrow Energy has run Whanu Binal in various forms since 2013, with the goal of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and individual workers in its operational footprint.
The Whanu Binal program not only enables participants to access content anytime, anywhere on any device, but also to build a professional support network.
In collaboration with CQUniversity and Arrow Energy, closed media pages enable mentoring to be approached in an innovative environment to cater to current travel restrictions.
Expressions of interest for the 2022 are now open. People interested in learning more about the program or submitting an expression of interest can visit www.cqu.edu.au/whanu-binal-indigenous-entrepreneur-program.
CQUniversity and Arrow also invite Indigenous alumni to apply to become program mentors. Those interested can visit the website or contact email@example.com.
To learn more about Australian Indigenous Grasstrees & Wildflowers, visit https://www.facebook.com/aigwqld/
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