Abstract: Running a business, or otherwise being self-employed, is one avenue for economic advancement for Indigenous people. However, employing oneself or others is a complex process with many potential pitfalls. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where globalisation and instantaneous information processing have increased the mobility of consumers and producers alike, Indigenous businesses have to be increasingly sophisticated to compete. Not only do they need to manage financial risk, but also fluctuating markets require a truly ëworldlyí outlook with adequate access to collateral and social networks. In this context it is not surprising that the Indigenous population continues to have a very low rate of business formation. This paper provides a profile of the Indigenous self-employed in Australia using data from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey and recent censuses. It uses this profile to discuss issues raised in the international literature on race, ethnicity and self-employment.
Notes: This Discussion Paper provides a profile of the indigenous self-employed in Australia, using data from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey and recent censuses. It uses this profile to discuss issues raised in the international literature on race, ethnicity and self-employment. This paper builds on previous studies which document the circumstances of individual, indigenous self-employed people. It is not possible to understand the processes that determine the success of these entrepreneurs because the acquisition of data on indigenous businesses is still in its infancy. Given that access to capital is a potentially important constraint on self-employment, more detailed information is required on the capital requirements of indigenous businesses. The author suggests a starting point may be businesses that utilise government assistance or are involved in the business plans of the relevant local Area Consultative Committee. Although government programs for business are important, it is more important to address the low level of education among potential indigenous entrepreneurs. This paper highlights the need to increase the level of business qualifications among the self-employed to ensure they can assess and manage the manifold risks in an increasingly globalised marketplace. Sections within this paper include: (1) Introduction (2) Recent trends in indigenous self-employment (3) A profile of the indigenous self-employed in Australia - (a) Describing indigenous self-employment (b) Which indigenous people become self-employed? (4) Discussion - (a) Data issues (b) Opportunity structures and indigenous self-employment (c) Access to human, social and financial capital (d) The role of government assistance in developing indigenous self-employment (e) Access to government contracts (5) Conclusion ISSN: 1036 1774 ISBN: 0 7315 2611 2