ACCORDING to co-owners Mick Roberts and Thelma James, starting up the GunnaWannaBe Café, Gallery and Learning Centre in Union Street, South Lismore, was a tough gig.
Although the quirky café and gallery is now a beacon of success, the couple feel things could have been a whole lot easier with the help of a small business development program, like the one launched by the NSW Government on Wednesday.
The joint State and Federal initiative, worth nearly $1.5 million, is designed to help create small business opportunities for indigenous people in New South Wales.
Ten Aboriginal economic development officers have been appointed state-wide, one of them in Lismore.
Their role will be to provide direct support and mentoring in setting up a small business.
Other officers will work in Sydney, Dubbo, Newcastle, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Illawarra, Parramatta and Mount Druitt.
The officers will provide specialised support, mentoring and networking to Aboriginal people and local Aboriginal land councils, manage and implement business development programs that can lead to employment or business development opportunities, and help Aboriginal people plan for future growth and development of enterprises.
“People are encouraged to access the Government’s industry and investment website to discover the kind of Aboriginal small businesses development programs available to them,” economic development officer for Industry and Investment NSW SteveVallance said.
“It’s hard enough to start up a small business. Due to obvious reasons, the challenge can be even greater for Aboriginal people. This initiative is specifically designed to cater to those challenges.”
The NSW Minister for Small Business, Peter Primrose, made the announcement on Wednesday at GunnaWanna-Be, stating the initiative should have a positive impact on the economic independence of indigenous people across the State.
“We are proud to provide the support to empower indigenous groups to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” Mr Primrose said.