Powerhouse partnership renewed to support indigenous entrepreneurs

Powerhouse partnership renewed to support indigenous entrepreneurs
Whanu Binal is an online program aimed at empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs by providing support and guidance to establish and grow their businesse

First published by Jocelyn Sticklen at Central Queensland University

CQUniversity Australia and Queensland-based natural gas company, Arrow Energy, are proud to announce the renewal of a collaborative partnership that will see them continue to deliver the popular Whanu Binal Indigenous entrepreneur program. 

Whanu Binal is an online program aimed at empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs by providing support and guidance to establish and grow their businesses. 

Since its inception almost five years ago, Whanu Binal has made a significant impact by providing business owners with additional skills and knowledge to build their networks and develop their business plans. 

The program was given its name in the language of the Western Guugu Yalanji peoples of Far North Queensland by one of Arrow Energy’s First Nations employees.

‘Whanu’ is a strong tree with deep roots and ‘Binal’ is the development of knowledge from infancy to an elder.

This definition has helped define the program, with a strong focus on empowering Indigenous businesses to create social and economic growth for their communities.

The program has been developed as a flexible study pathway that combines a series of self-paced modules with live virtual yarning circles with mentors and peers. It also provides participants with direct mentor support and guidance via email, phone and video catchups and social media. 

Professor Lee Di Millia, Dean of CQUniversity’s School of Business and Law, said that it was great to see renewal of the partnership so that a new cohort of participants could benefit. 

“It is exciting to see our partnership with Arrow Energy continue so that we can work together on delivering this important program to Indigenous business owners,” he said.

“Past participants have told us that the program provided them with useful insights and learnings that they have used to establish their business idea or take their existing business to the next level. 

“New participants will continue to benefit from the same flexible delivery method, with the addition of new resources and new mentors from a range of industries.”

Arrow Energy CEO, Zhengxin Peng, said that Arrow was committed to building capacity in the regions and supporting local businesses, especially Indigenous-owned enterprises. 

“Arrow Energy is delighted to extend our partnership with CQUniversity for the delivery of the Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneur Program,” Mr Peng said.

“We introduced the program several years ago with the aim of creating a more inclusive and equitable business landscape for Indigenous business owners. 

“Through our partnership with CQUniversity, Indigenous entrepreneurs have access to tailored support and resources to help strengthen their enterprises and drive positive change in their communities. 

“We are extremely proud of everything the program has achieved to date, and we look forward to seeing even more Indigenous businesses flourish in the future.”

Lauren Turner stands in front of a tall green hedge. She has long blonde hair and wears a white shirt and black jacket.
Previous participant Lauren Turner completed the Whanu Binal program in 2022

Previous participant Lauren Turner, who runs her own photography and art business (Lauren Turner Creative), completed the Whanu Binal program in 2022. 

She said that after being a health and physical education teacher for 13 years, it was time for a career change and to pursue her passion for art and photography.

“Growing up, I was the girl who always loved having a camera in her hand, capturing those candid moments at special events and gatherings,” Lauren said. 

“The excitement and joy I experience sharing sentimental moments with others is what continues to be the driving force for me. 

“My other love is Aboriginal dot painting, which helps to connect me with my First Nation ancestors. Creating contemporary art is my way of continuing to share stories and show appreciation for the oldest living culture in the world.”

Lauren said the Whanu Binal program had specifically helped her by creating a step-by-step guide to ensuring her small business could continue to thrive with the right knowledge.

“Being a participant in the program not only built my confidence but also gave me the right tools to successfully continue developing my brand and personal business portfolio,” she said.

“I would highly recommend any First Nations start-up business owners to join the Whanu Binal program.

“Starting your own business can be very daunting and challenging at times, but with the knowledge I’ve gained and the connections I've made through the program, I feel ten times more confident in myself and where I can now elevate my business to.”

The Whanu Binal program is free to complete and open to Indigenous business owners, managers, aspiring entrepreneurs and traditional owners with solid business ideas, who want support to grow their business and develop local economic opportunities for their communities, particularly in the Surat Basin and Bowen Basin regions.

Expressions of interest for the next intake of the program are now open, with the next program set to commence on 25 March 2024.

For more information or to submit an expression of interest, please visit the Whanu Binal page on the CQUniversity website.