Entrepreneur and indigenous Australian Josie Alec has a message for policymakers and business groups – stop viewing Indigenous business owners as “ticker boxes”.
Ms Alec, who was part of the stolen generation, was taken from her family when she was young and sent to live with a white family, was inspired to start The Jummi Factory (which makes skin care products from indigenous bush remedies) after returning to Karatha in Western Australia and spending 12 years with her real mum.
Having returned to the community as a school teacher, she quit her job in 2016 and started The Jummi Factory after realising there was a gap in the market for natural skin care remedies, which she had already been making for seven years.
She started selling her products through Facebook but felt she did not know much about running a business. When Ms Alec started attending business seminars run by local established companies to support the indigenous population, she felt like her attendance simply ticked a box, without receiving any ongoing support.
“Being around mining areas like we are, a lot of mining companies will put money into some sort of company that aims to help indigenous people. I went to a dinner and two breakfasts with one of these groups, but that’s all you get out of it,” she said.