Abstract: Purpose – Research in indigenous small business entrepreneurship in Australia is sparse. This paper aims to provide a review of the available literature culminating in a comprehensive model of characteristics, motivations and potential barriers to entrepreneurial activity. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of a literature review. Findings – “Push” factors were predominant as motivators for setting up business ventures and were strongly linked to the desire to improve severe disadvantage through very poor economic situations and negative racial stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice as well as addressing the needs of their community. Potential barriers to business development included lack of formal education, prior work experience, language barriers, culture conflicts and problems attaining sufficient finance. Female indigenous entrepreneurs faced both gender and racial discrimination. Practical implications – This paper concludes with some suggestions on future research and government and policy directions to encourage indigenous Australian entrepreneurship as a means of economic development for this population. Originality/value – The paper presents a unique comprehensive review and model of both male and female Australian indigenous entrepreneurs.