Black Business takes culturally specific view

A NATIONAL publication launched this week in Perth is working to educate indigenous people about small business opportunities.

Lera Bennell is the director of Black in Business, a Bunbury-based business that has developed the publication Black Business.

Ms Bennell said she realised there was a need for a culturally specific publication regarding the ownership and operation of a business.

“I was always involved with welfare to do with my people,” Ms Bennell said.

“You can stay in welfare as long as you like (but) until people know there are other opportunities they won’t take that step.”

The idea for a national business magazine was prompted by the good work Ms Bennell saw in the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP).

“The national CDEP was owned by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Commission. It was a work-for-the-dole program for Aboriginal people,” Ms Bennell said. “This was like a stepping stone for me.

“I did a lot of work on the magazine and I did a survey on people working on projects within the CDEP.”

The survey revealed Aboriginal people were finding it difficult to make the adjustment from community projects to mainstream business.

A lack of information on small business opportunities and material running a small business, including issues like taxation, was proving a stumbling block for many individuals involved in the community projects.

“Late in 1999 we had a conference and discussions took place and the interest was there to move to the next step, but we wanted more information,” Ms Bennell said.

“The conference suggested the need for some printed material to help people decide if they had a good business idea.”

It has taken two years for Ms Bennell to get this project up and running, however a grant from ATSIC has supported the launch of the first magazine and the response has been very positive.

The magazine has attracted advertising from a number of indigenous consultants and companies and the editorial includes a story on an international indigenous business.

“It’s all about how easy or how hard it can be to run a small business,” Ms Bennell said.

The challenge for Black Business is to put some of this good business theory into practice and develop the magazine into a self-sustaining publication over the next 12 to 18 months.

“We believe that this magazine will grow and develop according to the needs and wants of its readers,” Ms Bennell said.

“It will become the project of its readers and for that reason every indigenous man and woman will rightly feel as if it’s their publication – a sense of pride and ownership reflected in their achievements.”

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