Born from the collaborative vision of Worimi man Kieran Hynes and his fellow Indigenous classmates at a Melbourne Business School masterclass two years ago, Canberra’s Indigenous Business Precinct in Fyshwick is now open.
Mr Hynes said he and his classmates came up with the idea for “an incubator of Indigenous business” while analysing industry to find what was missing for Indigenous people and what couldn’t be provided by government.
The result is a multi-purpose precinct which provides a culturally safe space for Indigenous business leaders, facilitates networking and lower costs for emerging micro businesses.
The precinct has partnered with the University of Canberra and CIT to promote Indigenous education and employment opportunities.
Mr Hynes said it was about making a difference and closing the gap.
“I feel very privileged to be able to leverage any business success I’ve had to support the next generation to have careers,” he said.
Mr Hynes grew up in Broken Hill, before joining the IT and cyber security at Defence, where he indulged a passion for problem solving.
Since retiring from Defence 23 years ago, he has been living in Canberra and operating Willyama, the country’s only majority Indigenous-owned IT and cyber services company.
He is excited to use his skills and Willyama’s resources in a new capacity.
“Canberra is one of the best cities with great facilities,” he said. “But the Indigenous community is still overrepresented in unemployment and recidivism.
“I’ve had my own experience with family members in and out of prison.
“We need to harness the power of the city’s facilities to make a difference.”
At the larger end of the project, the precinct will work with big business and government to provide a “one-stop-shop” for Indigenous procurement works.
Mr Hynes said the precinct would have a cultural arm which supports the development of reconciliation plans and refurbishes technology for distribution to schools.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said local Indigenous entrepreneurs like Willyama represented a generation of businesses empowering local First Nations people through economic development.
“They’re providing jobs, opportunities and new services that will ultimately benefit all Canberrans, and we’re proud to have them as one of our valued members,” Mr Catt said.