Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs-Exploring the Indigenous Entrepreneur Identity

  • Chavan, Meena (Primary Chief Investigator)
  • Jack, Rob (Primary Chief Investigator)
  • Menzies, Jane (Associate Investigator)

Project: Research

Project Details


Exploring the Indigenous Entrepreneur Identity- What is to be an Indigenous entrepreneur in Australia?
The recent years have seen a spurt in interest in Indigenous entrepreneurship. One of the key initiatives is the 2018 Indigenous
Entrepreneurs Capital Scheme open to growing Indigenous businesses which have been in operation for two years or more
and are just below bank ready. ( This goes to show that there is recognition for Indigenous
entrepreneurship which can lead to positive outcomes such as, economic independence, self-determination, and cultural
preservation within Indigenous societies (Butler & Hinch, 1996). However, despite these positives, critics argue the negative
impacts of indigenous entrepreneurship including, increased cost of living for local residents, exploitation of human and
cultural resources, and risk and desecration of sacred sites and natural resources (Mapunda, 2007). The reality as shown in a
recent report on Indigenous entrepreneurship in Australia by KPMG (2018) indicates there has been a 23% increase in the
number of Indigenous business owners between 2011 and 2016, which is four times the rate of non-Indigenous business
owners. According to Supply Nation (2015), Indigenous businesses employ thirty times more Indigenous people than other
businesses, reinvest revenues in their communities and build upon their Indigenous employees’ connection to culture.
Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, states that there is no better time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be
in business (Pearson, 2018). The purpose of this project is to develop a greater understanding of the role of indigenous
identity in entrepreneurial behavior and success. Identity refers to the set of meanings that define “who one is” (Burke &
Stets, 2009, p. 1). Indigenous identity is based on a person’s Nation or community often have more importance and influence
in their life than the abstract and global-level identity of being Indigenous. The project seeks to gain a greater understanding
of how indigenous identity relate to entrepreneurial behavior and success. Using the dominant theories of identity employed
in organizational and entrepreneurship research, such as social identity theory (e.g. Ashforth & Mael, 1989) and identity
theory (e.g. Burke & Stets, 2009), this research seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) How does indigenous
identity relate to entrepreneurial behavior? (2) How do indigenous entrepreneurs define success?
This research has several benefits. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their indigenous identity and its impact
on their entrepreneurial behavior and success. The knowledge that results from this study will provide a greater understanding
of indigenous entrepreneurship in Australia.
The findings can contribute to the broad discussion on how entrepreneurship can be used as an appropriate approach to
economic development for Indigenous people. The results will provide a greater understanding on how indigenous identity
can influence entrepreneurial practices and impact the wider indigenous community. Findings from this study can be used to
develop programs to: (1) develop indigenous identity and, (2) support best entrepreneurial practices.
Short titleIndigenous Women Entrepreneurs
Effective start/end date1/11/2131/12/23