The Indigipreneur Mission is to bring you stories from the doers and thinkers to inspire you to take action and make a positive difference in the world.
It’s where you listen to Indigenous Entrepreneurs and Changemakers from around the world. It’s hosted by Dean Foley, a First Nations entrepreneur from Australia.
The Dean Foley Story
“My name is Dean Foley and I’m a Kamilaroi man from Gunnedah, NSW. I come from a poor family and grew up in a rough environment like most people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, but somehow I finished year 12 and received a special and positive mention at our school graduation, despite not turning up to approximately 30% of school days and ending up with below average school scores. There were only a few classmates who received a special mention at our graduation, and I think a lot of people were shocked that I was one of them, let alone being told I would eventually become successful in something one day.
I wasn’t sure what that thing was, and I didn’t feel I was smart enough to go to university with below average grades, so I joined the Royal Australian Air Force, which is pretty funny in hindsight because I’m in the last semester of my masters degree at the Queensland University of Queensland, and the Air Force was definitely harder. Joining the Air Force was a dream come true because I always wanted to serve in the Australian Defence Force like my grandfather who fought in numerous locations in World War II and was one of the Rats of Tobruk.
However, after a friend in the Air Force gave me a book on entrepreneurship and when I started learning about entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who I believe are making a real difference in the world, I decided to leave the Air Force after 5 years to learn about what it takes to run and grow businesses.
It became apparent to me that First Nations people have a lack of positive role models in business and a lack of awareness of pathways to starting and growing a business. In addition, I discovered organisations that are given 10’s of millions of taxpayer funding every year to help Indigenous entrepreneurs, weren’t really helpful – the most help I got from them after being told they could help me was, if you want to own a cafe, go work in a cafe.
I now belief First Nations entrepreneurship is the high growth and impact solution that will help close the disparity and opportunity gap between First Nations and non-First Nations Australians. And with over 50% of First Nations people in Australia being under the age of 25, the youth have to stand up and lead the way.
This is why I started Barayamal, Australia’s Indigenous business accelerator, which is now known as a world leader in First Nations entrepreneurship. We inspire and support First Nations youth and budding entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams through entrepreneurship and technology so they can break the poverty cycle and create a better Australia for all who live in it.
Despite not receiving millions of dollars like our “competitors”, we’ve already ran Australia’s first Indigenous business accelerator program, first Indigenous Startup Weekend and CoderDojo coding programs. Barayamal officially begun in April last year (2018), and since then are work has been recognised through national awards like the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Early Career Award and the Entrepreneurship Award at the Indigenous Digital Excellence Awards in Refern. Barayamal is now known as a world leader in Indigenous Entrepreneurship.
First Nations business leaders provide role models and leadership for other members of the community, which has a positive ripple effect in all communities. So help us build the future leaders of tomorrow and create a better world for everyone.”