Good Return is investing in Indigenous women entrepreneurs empowering them to realise their true potential

Good Return is investing in Indigenous women entrepreneurs empowering them to realise their true potential

This International Women’s Day, Australian social purpose organisation Good Return and its partners are enabling a network of more than 100 Indigenous women entrepreneurs in the Kimberley to grow on their business journey. By sharing resources and training programs to lift the financial capability of members of a successful business club, Maganda Makers, more female Indigenous business owners are on the path to controlling their own destiny. 

Good Return provides women with the tools to manage money and access to responsible finance. The organisation is in support of the UN’s rallying cry for increased investment in women, having supported 15000 women across the region access finance and 65,000 women with financial and business training over the past 20 years.

The Maganda Makers business club is a collaboration between Indigenous-led organisation Kimberley Jiyigas, the Sir Robert Menzies Foundation for Leadership and Good Return. Good Return brings its experience in financial capability and financial inclusion to the project, working with Indigenous leaders to build resources and training programs and help the women become investment ready.

Natasha Short from Kimberley Jiyigas is Good Return’s ambassador for the program and Club Captain. She says it is vital to combine access to finance with culturally competent training in financial and business capability.

“For many Indigenous women in the Kimberley, the idea of business is brand new. It can also be overwhelming to think about their own goals and how to reach them, especially when these women are used to seeing themselves as responsible first for their family and community. We are passionate about improving the financial literacy of the members of Maganda Makers as the club helps women see they have the assets, the cultural knowledge, the strength, and the creativity to venture. I love the light that comes on people’s faces when they learn there’s a different way to make money and they can consider opportunity for themselves,” said Short.

The club brings the women together in person or online, to share resources, knowledge and ideas, encourage each other, and access links to capital sources and informed business support. The women share learnings on marketing, budgeting and finance, production and sales and how to deal with the unique challenges of doing business in remote areas – where even getting to the post office in the wet season can be impossible.

Kathleen Cox is a Maganda Maker and lives on Country at her community Goombaragin on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome. Kathleen owns and operates her small eco-tourism business, providing self-contained accommodation and unpowered campsites.

Kathleen recently hosted a women’s gathering for Maganga Makers and has used her club connections to get feedback on business ideas and share her learnings with women who are interested in setting up a business especially in the tourism industry and cultural tourism.

“Networking is vital and using the Maganda Maker Business Club as a platform to encourage, engage and give lift to all women, is the step in the right direction,” said Kathleen.

“I am an advocate for grassroots tourism on country and I believe my people can control their own destiny, create their own autonomy, and develop viable and sustainable businesses and communities in which they live and become financially independent.”

“My own business is based on maintaining and caring for country with a minimal footprint, and sharing my cultural knowledge. If it is to be, then it’s up to me – is my moto – and with Maganda Makers by my side, anything is possible to achieve.”

The club started three years ago and the Maganda Makers are in different stages of their business ventures across the arts, food and catering, hospitality, mining services and much more.

In 2024, Good Return will use the learnings from the Maganda Makers Business Club to find ways for Indigenous women in other regions to connect and grow through business and opportunity. It will also be working with the right financial partners to create capital mechanisms that respect Indigenous women’s way of doing business.

Good Return’s Program Director for Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship, Cindy Mitchell (pictured), says recognising the strength and skill of Indigenous women entrepreneurs should be part of every International Women’s Day celebration in this country.

“These women are extraordinary in how they manage their lives and their commitment to family and community alongside their businesses – often in very remote locations. Investors need to see the opportunity in these powerful women leaders – I think they have so much to teach us all about the role of business in empowerment and community,” said Mitchell.