“Negative stories shape opinions and generate hatred towards Indigenous Australians. We need more positive and unbiased stories on Indigenous Australians to help unite the nation and create a better country for all who live in it,” starts Dean Foley, founder and voice of Indigipreneur – a podcast self-mandated to tell the stories of Indigenous entrepreneurs.
A proud Kamilaroi man hailing from Gunnedah in NSW, Dean would have once considered himself a strange candidate for such a job. “I come from a poor family in rural NSW and never knew that you can become an entrepreneur and run your own business,” he began. As a former member of the Royal Australian Air Force, it was a chance exchange that shaped the formative steps toward Dean’s new destiny as an entrepreneur, “serving my country while earning a good income was a success in itself for me… until a friend gave me a book on entrepreneurship, which lead me to Richard Branson, who I have learnt a lot from and look up to.”
Looking for the support of like-minded up-starters, it was in-fact the distinct lack-there-of, which led Dean to launch Barayamal – Australia’s premier Indigenous business accelerator; now known as a world leader in Indigenous entrepreneurship.
“I reluctantly decided to create [Barayamal] to help Indigenous entrepreneurs. I say reluctantly because I wanted to become a ‘success’ in business and be in a better position to help the community before creating a charity, but someone had to do something… and with the help of successful entrepreneurs and professionals, we’ve created world-class programs that are making a positive difference,” explains Dean. Barayamal – meaning ‘Black Swan’ in Kamilaroi language, was the first of Dean’s initiatives in 2017, and a pipeline of potential guests for his new podcast.
“Every person we interview has a unique story and background,” highlights Dean. “Indigipreneur is an initiative of Barayamal that I believe adds synergy to one of our main objectives, which is to close the opportunity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through entrepreneurship and technology.”
Dean describes the intention behind Barayamal and its new sibling initiative, Indigipreneur, is to both “inspire other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve their self-determination aspirations,” and to “connect with the general public to shine a light on the many success stories of Indigenous entrepreneurs who are running successful businesses and creating jobs for all Australians – creating a stronger economy and the country, as a whole, more prosperous.”
Looking for listeners in every corner of the nation, from urban centres to the remote towns of central and northern Australia, Microsoft RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) Advisory Board member and winner of the Entrepreneurship Award at the 2017 Indigenous Excellence Awards (IDX), Dean has a vision for his latest adventure that is simple, “I hope to have a podcast that is valued and loved by our audience – hopefully we are a positive influence in their life.”
In early 2018, Indigipreneur raised $AU2,000 to buy new equipment for the relaunch – a follow-up to the first episodes produced on Dean’s own “very old” MacBook.
Ready to take on new and more inspiring stories from the rule breakers of Australian business, Dean reflected on what advice he would have hoped to receive as a young master Foley: “I believe it is challenging to find your calling or passion when you have a tunnel or narrow vision approach to life, so I would recommend learning new things, building unique skills and travelling the world to open your mind to new possibilities and help you find your calling or passion. Life is a journey, and I think too many people create unnecessary stress from trying to find their ‘passion’ before they start their journey.”
Dean will host the First Nations Youth Summit on 28-29 June, 2018 – a summit for First Nations by First Nations, focused on inspiring youth to ‘think big’ and embrace entrepreneurship and technology to achieve their aspirations.