Indigenous businesses in Shepparton preparing for Commonwealth Games gold rush

The Commonwealth Games is estimated to be worth $3bn to the Victorian economy. In Shepparton, a group of collaborators are working on how some of that money can flow to the Indigenous business sector.

On 21 June 2023 representatives from the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership, jointly run by the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School, will arrive in Shepparton to deliver a Regional Business Workshop for Indigenous-lead businesses.

The program, delivered in partnership with Kaiela Institute, Kinaway Victorian Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and Indigenous Business Australia, will help Indigenous businesses prepare for the increase in tourists during the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

The long-term goal beyond the Games is economic self-determination for First Nations Australians.

Throughout 2023, Wiradjuri academic Dr Ashlen Francisco from Dilin Duwa has been traveling to Shepparton to meet with the Kaiela Institute to prepare for the workshop.

“In the Shepparton area, there are close to 50 First Nations businesses in all areas – from catering to construction. We know from research that Indigenous businesses are more likely to employ mob, so if we can help grow these businesses, then opportunities will flow to the rest of the community,” said Dr Francisco.

She said Shepparton would suddenly change when the Commonwealth Games started and it was not too early to begin preparation.

“In a few short years the streets of Shepparton will be filled with tourists, competitors and Games officials. The Games provide a great opportunity for local businesses, especially local First Nations businesses, but we need to be prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for regional Victorian businesses. We have an opportunity to prepare businesses to increase their capacity.  That work starts now,” said Dr Francisco.

Over three days the workshops will be delivered at The Connection with a focus on three core areas – finance, marketing and leadership.

For-profit and community organisations will discuss ideas on how individually and as a collective, they can grow the Indigenous business ecosystem in the region.

The workshops by Dilin Duwa are built on the foundations of their award winning MURRA Indigenous Business Masterclass Program, the leading business education program for Indigenous entrepreneurs. Since 2012, MURRA has welcomed over 200 First Nations entrepreneurs from across the country to Naarm for workshops.

The sessions in Shepparton will be facilitated by Dilin Duwa faculty and MURRA alumni who have gone through their own business journeys and are keen to share their learnings and provide practical tips.

“MURRA is a great example of how if you deliver culturally appropriate educational programs, people feel welcomed and supported to work on their goals. MURRA businesses employ thousands of people and operate across the country,” said Dr Francisco

“However, one barrier to people participating in MURRA is that it’s located in Naarm-Melbourne. If you’re running a business, it can be hard to step away and travel to the city for 12 days. These regional business workshops go to the community - we bring our faculty and MURRA alumni to work on business sessions that are relevant to the community and we only do so by invitation,” said Dr Francisco.

Dilin Duwa has run successful programs run in Mparntwe-Alice Springs and Yarrabah over the past year.

Media enquiries: Lan Hoang