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A first for Cairns as Indian women innovators network with local Indigenous business women

Published:20 November 2019

Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie AM, Director of CQuniversity’s First Peoples Think Tank, is pictured CENTRE, beside Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, among female innovators from India and key business women from the Cairns region Indigenous community.

Cairns has hosted a unique networking opportunity involving 10 female innovators from India and key First Nations business women from the Cairns community.

This event was part of a wider project aiming to enhance cross-cultural employability and a global entrepreneurial mindset of both Queensland entrepreneurs and Indian women entrepreneurs.

It also addressed capacity-building in the field of social business.

“As Australia's only Ashoka U Changemaker institution, and as host of the Cairns component of the visit through its First Peoples Think Tank, CQUniversity is well placed to follow up on any sustainable innovation initiatives from the project,” says Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie AM, Director of CQUniversity’s First Peoples Think Tank.

“The First Peoples Think Tank is excited to provide these opportunities for cross-cultural knowledge, networking and business partnerships between Queensland and India, which is a key trade partner and subject of the Queensland-India Trade and Investment Strategy.

“We hope to share key learnings across international borders and contexts, to enhance the skills of entrepreneurs to thrive in a global marketplace.

“This was a great chance for our participants from India and the Cairns region to learn how to work effectively in culturally, linguistically and socially different environments. We could even help match up Indigenous businesses with like-minded counterparts in India.”

The Cairns visit was a part of a wider project titled ‘Going Global – Enhancing the intercultural business capabilities of Queensland Entrepreneurs and Indian Women Entrepreneurs’. It was presented in partnership with Griffith University and Trade and Investment Queensland’s Study Queensland.

“Lessons from the program will help develop market intelligence, and possibly short courses, to help Queensland businesses enter the Indian market,” says Associate Professor Marrie.

The Cairns component of the visit began with an evening welcome function hosted by the Hilton Hotel on Thursday 14 November. Local and state politicians and community leaders mingled with the women entrepreneurs.

After a panel discussion/forum on Friday morning (15 November), the Indian visitors toured the Yarrabah Aboriginal community to gain an insight into the potential for development of business links in rural areas.

This project has been co-funded by the Queensland Government’s International Education and Training Partnership Fund.

Indian Women Innovators Project delegates are involved in:

  • Education for children in rural areas
  • Ecologically and socially sustainable food, health and lifestyle products
  • Craft-based skill development and income enhancement for traditional artisans and marginalised communities
  • Jewellery manufacture and sales to develop women’s entrepreneurship and self-reliance
  • All-natural artisan flour manufacture
  • Social organisation focused on accessibility solutions for the blind in India, including braille-based merchandise and a Disability Etiquette Program
  • Development of cafés to provide training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for adults with intellectual, physical and psychiatric disability – to encourage economic independence and dignity
  • Development of technologies for sustainable solid waste processing, including composting, vermicomposting, mechanical compost – municipal solid waste management for sustainable development of cities
  • A boutique law firm focusing on intellectual property, corporate, commercial, transactional, Information technologies, and employment law
  • and a consultancy focusing on strategic planning, industry intelligence and financial advice for manufacturing, trade, distribution and retail.

Local Indigenous women entrepreneurs are involved in:

  • Aboriginal-design silk scarf manufacture and sales – contributing to the economic empowerment of Aboriginal women artists living in disadvantaged homelands communities, through payments of art licensing fees and royalties, and artwork purchases
  • Information and communications technology supply, and support of community self-sufficiency through both physical and social infrastructure
  • A 100% Indigenous-owned law firm, dealing in commercial, construction and Indigenous law – which also advises on incorporating and adhering to cultural protocol and dealing in culturally appropriate ways
  • Law and accountancy
  • Using technologies and complementary traditional practices to provide solutions for disadvantaged people and to create social and economic inclusion across many boards and advisory bodies for the arts, business, regional development, Indigenous innovation and academia
  • Art across multiple mediums, including pottery, painting and jewellery
  • Production of hand-painted fashion accessories, and artwork design for logos and clothing.