Laikim Sisters PNG reflection

PNG-Aus Partnership program connects a different kind of entrepreneurial network

“I’m very, very passionate about Indigenous female entrepreneurship, so, when I heard that this was going to be a cultural exchange that was purely women, that was really, really exciting.”

Kylie Lee Bradford is one of 18 female entrepreneurs in a pilot program, Laikim Sister.

The program is an initiative of the Australian Government under the #PNGAusPartnership to connect Indigenous Australian and PNG women entrepreneurs across three industries: traditional foods, cultural tourism and creative arts.

The program is uniquely designed to deepen the trade connections between the PNG and Indigenous Australia at a grassroots level, and to spark innovation in the represented industries by sharing the experiences and stories of gender, culture, and business of the women.

“The key learning [from the program], for me, has been resilience.  Especially when Betty told her story.  She spoke about overcoming hardship in her life and business life and community.  [She’s] come from such a tough background, but she’s motored on, and shown great strength and resilience and to this day she’s still such a leader in community and her family.  It was emotional to hear her story, and her power and strength was felt in abundance,” said Ms Bradford, of her fellow participant.

Ms Bradford grew up in a small Aboriginal community called Patonga in the heart of Kakadu National Park, Australia. She founded Kakadu Tiny Tots and now runs Kakadu Tucker which sells wild-harvested, native Australian bushfoods, teas and skin care.

“Losing my mum recently, has put a massive strain on my capabilities and strengths.  So being able to connect with a lot of PNG women who have gone through so much hardship has really inspired me to continue my journey and continue my mum’s legacy and live her strength and her light,” she said.

The program – which resumes in February 2020, in Cairns Australia – provides immersive cultural and business experiences and discussions, allowing the women to share knowledge and insight across their cultures, and spark ideas and innovation across the industries they work in.

“Being able to learn from the PNG women is incredible.  Their culture, their protocols, the way they do things – it’s so great to learn from. I think we’ve all got so much value to give and I feel like this community and this movement has to continue. What’s been created here is an amazing opportunity that should continue over a very long time.  There’s nothing like it, and there’s so much we can learn from each other,” said Ms Bradford.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Laikim Sister program or the businesses involved, please email info@tdi.org.au


Celebrating the 2019 difference makers as we enter a new decade

At TDi 2019 was another amazing year. Again, we’ve had the privilege of helping Difference Makers from Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Australia.  We’ve helped entrepreneurs build out their ideas and business models. We’ve worked with NFPs to explore new revenue streams and forge new pathways of doing business. We’ve had interesting and important conversations with our corporate and government partners.

It’s interesting because most people assume our work is about numbers and spreadsheets, marketing plans and slogans. But our work goes much deeper than that – it’s the human stories of struggle and triumph, of resilience and adapting that make our work what it is.  All our team would say that our work moves and changes us, and we are inspired by the grit, determination and sacrifice of the amazing people we get to work with.

On a personal note, our TDi team has grown, we've had babies born, and we’ve also been working behind the scenes on some special, fun stuff that will help us better tell our own story. Watch this space early next year you’ll see a new chapter in TDi’s life released!


Our favourite projects of 2019

At a time of year that invites reflection, our team looks back on the projects that have been meaningful, heart-warming, fun, adventurous, challenging, exciting and special...

LIV

It’s just got to be “Accelerate with IBA” for me!  Together with Indigenous Business Australia we run an accelerator for Indigenous Social Entrepreneurs. I love the passion and commitment these entrepreneurs bring to their enterprises and their resilience and hope. It is such a joy to be part of a room of people who care about and make time for genuine relationships. We laugh together and cry together and long after the formal journey has finished, we still cheer each other on. Through this work I see a shared future for Australia that I can be proud of.

ANNA

My favourites have been the Guria Accelerator – an outstanding group of brave businesswomen (PNG-Australia Partnership and Women's Business Resource Centre in PNG); the Laikim Sister program, for opening my eyes and heart to a sisterhood I never knew I could call my own (PNG-Australia Partnership); and finally, our work with the team at Essence of Fiji who create belonging and opportunity for so many women in Fiji.

SHANNON

This year I have been blessed to meet and work with some amazing entrepreneurs in PNG as we launched the Alotau and Rabaul ports for the YuMi Tourism Partners program - a partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (including PNG-Australia Partnership) and Carnival Australia. We are there to help them, but I can honestly say that I have learnt so much from them and am all the richer for that experience. I feel that PNG has become a second home to me, and I love sharing this with people who perhaps aren’t quite as informed on the beauty that PNG has.

ISAAC

My favourite project this year is the Guria Accelerator (through PNG-Australia Partnership and Women's Business Resource Centre in PNG) – twelve incredible entrepreneurs in Port Moresby.  Guria means "Earthquake" or "Shake-Up", and it's living up to its name. These business owners are working together to double their sales and double their revenues, without doubling their workloads.  The energy and spirit of the cohort is remarkable, we will have a lot of great stories to share at our Showcase in March in Port Moresby.

ANNIE

My favourite project this year was Laikim Sister which has been supported by the Australian Government under PNG-Australia Partnership. Laikim is an exchange between Papua New Guinean businesswomen and Indigenous Australian businesswomen. This project brings together so many of the big themes in my life into one place – themes of female entrepreneurship, themes of overcoming, themes of exclusion and social justice. It was a humbling experience and privilege to have been able to facilitate this program. The stories of these women which have begun to be told publicly have etched a place in my spirit. It has and will continue to change me.

ERIN

My favourite project this year was our work in Goroka in partnership with the Australian Government under PNG-Australia Partnership and Pacific Trade Invest, understanding the bilum supply chain. It combines two of my greatest loves: strategy and storytelling. We got the rare opportunity to understand the mechanics of a growing export industry working with key players all along the supply chain to shape its growth. Bilum has many stories to tell: that of the art form, of the weavers, of its history and place in PNG’s culture and I enjoyed learning about them.

CARLO

I’ve had the privilege of working with the Porgera District Women’s Association to help build out a sustainable social enterprise model.  For me personally, Porgera is one of the most challenging environments I have worked in and at the same time one of the most welcoming and rewarding. The women we worked with are strong, inspiring, and warm-hearted. I feel privileged to have been invited into this world and look forward to a lasting relationship with our new “family”.

ELISA

My favourite TDi project this year has been Yumi Tourism Partners in Rabaul, PNG, in partnership with the PNG-Australia Partnership and Carnival Australia.  As somebody who usually works 'behind the scenes' I loved getting out on the front line and seeing TDi in action.  It was a fabulous experience, seeing the amazing towns and people of Rabaul and Kokopo and getting a glimpse in to their fascinating history, who they are and what they have to share with the rest of the world.  We spent time talking with tour operators, local businesses and politicians and I could see how TDi is really helping be a conduit to connect them to opportunities that they have hungered for for years, but not known where to start or how to go about it.


Here's to the difference makers...

Australia’s bushfire disaster has shown that hope and leadership can come from unlikely places and shows us a new way forward.

 

We entered this new year in a tumultuous way, as our beautiful country burns, homes lost, people displaced and devastation of wildlife and bushland. This is a time for leadership, compassion and finding a different way forward.

We’ve been encouraged by those who have stepped up in this crisis. They’ve come from sometimes unexpected places, but offer hope as they seek to be the difference makers. Here’s just a few…

 

The crafters

Who knew knitting or sewing would be a top skill required to help in this disaster? The need for pouches for rescued wildlife has led to spontaneous sewing bees, crafting groups responding from community libraries here and as far away as Ireland. Sew Much Easier is just one of the many sites putting calls out for sewing help.

 

The connectors

People have used their connections and coordination skills to get food and medical supplies, food for farm animals and practical support to communities. Gippsland Jersey has been instrumental in organizing hay to be transported to fire affected farms in East Gippsland.

 

The artists, poets, musicians and comedians

The role art plays in bringing hope and expression has been so evident as we’ve seen many musicians, poets, artists and comedians rise to the occasion. Celeste Barber’s appeal captured the hearts of many, while artists near and far have responded with gifts, relief concerts, art shows, and the Australian Open Rally for Relief that saw $5 million raised to support fire affected communities.

 

The innovators

Adversity breeds innovation like nothing else. It has been remarkable to new initiatives spring to life so quickly in response to the devastating bushfires.Small business is a topic close to our hearts, so we’ve particularly loved these initiatives designed to support and promote the businesses impacted by the loss of trade from the fires. Jump on board:

EmptyEmpty Esky, It my shout It's My Shout, and Spend With Them, to name a few.

The defenders

No doubt that these guys are the real heroes on the front lines. They are risking their lives, many voluntarily, missing their family, their Christmas. The CFA, Fire Rescue, Forest Fire Management, plant and equipment owners, Victoria Police, our Australian Defence Force and Army Reservists.

 

The carers

It’s times like these where we see the power and strength of Food Bank, Red Cross, The Salvos responding on the scene. Not to mention all of the wildlife groups, and the vets donating their time to help.

 

The givers

Our Pacific neighbours supporting Australians with resources and financial donations. The Australian public who have given their financial donations – Celeste Barber’s fundraising alone has raised over $50 million! If you’re a giver you can head here for options:  https://www.bushfirehelp.org/

Here’s to the Difference Makers.

And here’s to a new decade of rediscovering our interconnectedness to each other and to the land, as we seek to bring health and wellbeing to people and our planet.

 

 

To keep up to date with more blog posts from TDi be sure to subscribe to our newsletter here.

 


The art of rule-breaking

From Annie Smits, CEO

 

I consider myself a ‘seasoned rule-breaker’ having dedicated much of my life to challenging systems that don’t work. I spent 10 years as a minister pushing up against one of the biggest institutions entrenched in tradition: the church. What comes to mind for me when I think about Piscasso’s quote learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist is the journey to mastering a trade – from novice, to apprentice, to journeyman, to master of a craft.

 

 

So, what does this have to do with social entrepreneurship and innovation? Well everything!

As social entrepreneurs we desire to break the rules, rearrange the system, and to change how we treat people and planet.  To see the true change in a system, we need to apprentice with the problem before we can shift it or break it.   ‘Apprentice with the problem’ is a saying of the late great Pamela Hartigan.  By this she meant we need to take time to understand the problem before we could truly be of any value as part of the solution.

 

I think a great example that illustrates this for me is how KeepCup apprenticed with the problem of ‘wasteful coffee culture’.  I remember once sitting with Abigail Forsyth, the founder of Keep Cup, who wanted to change peoples’ behaviour around the use of disposable cups.  As a café owner and barista, she spent many years studying people’s relationship and behaviour to takeaway coffee culture – I remember being fascinated by this.  Abigail was confident she could convince people to buy a reusable cup, but that wasn’t the entire problem, it was also continual use of it.  The biggest question she spent her time answering was how do we incentivise people to remember to bring their reusable takeaway cups with them every time?

 

 

Why are we breaking the rules in the first place?

 

For me personally, the most powerful reason for systems-change is exclusion – someone is being left out or not able to participate in a system. I think of our finances system in the West, where bankers and finance experts have created a system of intimidation and closed knowledge that excludes people through the language they use.   I think of equality ‘trade-off’ debate: women can have more power and a voice, as long as it doesn’t leave the guys out.   As a mother of two young boys I don’t want my sons left behind, but I also have a daughter and want her to grow up with equal opportunity in the system.   In fact, some of the most outrageous reasons for exclusion we’ve seen, have been through our work with Indigenous people – for example, laws that don’t acknowledge the rights of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people?!

 

At TDi, much of our work to date has been about helping the excluded to participate in existing systems (for example, our work through YuMi).  But I don’t think in any of these issues its just about helping someone to participate in the current system.   More and more, I’m asking myself the question what if we need to build new and inclusive systems, create a new language and a new centre?

 

If we’re creating a new system, it requires all of us to think and act differently. Who is going to own this problem?  The most powerful place for change is when we own the problem, take responsibility in how we’ve been complicit in that system.  This requires us to be changed as a part of the process, not just a passive expert facilitating someone else’s journey from the outside. An expert comes with all the answers, all the knowledge and all the power. Instead, we need to approach problems from a position of vulnerability, empathy and be open to the process of change, changing us.

 

Be patient grasshopper

Change requires a thoughtful, patient process.  There’s a youthful energy and enthusiasm that comes with rule-breaking that I love, but it also needs to be tempered with patience, to get the long-term or scalable change we are looking for.   We need to observe, participate, practice, practice, practice in a system, before we can make it our own.  There are three qualities that I dig deep for to help me on a patient journey: humility, curiosity and most of all an ability to sit in the messy unknown of a situation before you jump to the solution.

 

Humility: our ability to say ‘we don’t know’ is a constant gift.  It opens space for new ideas, further discussion, and others to contribute to the conversation providing new points of view.

 

Curiosity: our greatest friend. As kids we are born with a great sense of curiosity, constantly asking ‘but why?’ Many of us lose this as we grow older, or it’s considered a childish trait, but I would argue it is through a sense of curiosity that we master a situation.

 

Sitting in the unknown: our ability to suspend judgement is critical to arrive at a solution for lasting change.  At TDi we call it ‘the messy middle’ where we sit in the mess and the unknown before we can come up with a solution.

These three things are hard to do when you’ve got pressure from external stakeholders to ‘have the answer’.  But a true response will take time and thoughtfulness.  This isn’t the easy journey, and might mean that, like Abigail, you sit alongside the problem or behaviour you are looking to change to understand the levers and relationships which affect long lasting change.


The Full Monty the movie, and the next economy

From Anna Moegerlein, Principal

 

The Full Monty is one of my favourite movies. Recently I stumbled across a chapter by J. K Gibson-Graham (2006) describing the film through the lens of the next economy. It took my appreciation to a whole other level.

 

The Full Monty is set in Sheffield in the England shortly after the closure of the steelworks. A group of unemployed men gather each day at the Job Club. Some are looking for work, others have given up all together. Then a male strip show comes to town and a small group of the local men, led by Gaz, decide to put on their own show to rival the Chippendales.

 

Things don’t go so well initially. There’s an excruciating scene where one man is auditioning for a part in the group. He fumbles, stops halfway and runs out. This is followed by a hilarious scene with an older black man who stuns the group with his charismatic dance moves. The film strikes the perfect balance between funny and sad.

 

What Gibson-Graham so deftly point out is that The Full Monty is a story of economic transition that actually goes well. The central characters give themselves permission to embrace a more flexible male identity (that includes vulnerability and creativity), they’re thoroughly successful in their enterprise and are celebrated by their community.

 

In their book, Gibson-Graham talk about how important identity and agency are to successful economic transition, and specifically to an economy that is more inclusive, more equitable and not dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, they suggest that the task of building this new economy is more about performing different economic identities (identities that moves beyond ‘homo-economicus’ to include work/business that integrates purpose, as well our interdependency with the natural world, among other things), than it is about macro-economic planning. I’d suggest it’s both, but the stories we tell ourselves and our national economic narrative is absolutely putting the brakes on change.

 

Gibson-Graham’s book also reminded me of how important community is to any transition. People need hope, agency and the encouragement of their peers. There’s also that point where you let go, step into the unknown and see what happens.


Technology, inequality and the future of work

Image courtesy of Square Up, Australia.

 

Reflections on The University of Melbourne Lecture Series 

Recently, I attended a discussion about the future impacts of technological innovation on Australia’s workforce and economic and social equality, at The University of Melbourne. Tim Dunlop (Futurist) and Tim Lyons (former ACTU Assistant Secretary) debated the likelihood of new technologies widening, or perhaps redefining, the gap between richer and poorer Australians by changing the way we work in the future. In particular, Tim Dunlop's perspective resonated with me, as I share below.

 

The Good:

Dunlop painted a new kind of future in which institutions are self-governing, brave and interested in wealth redistribution, rather than principally driven by profit maximisation for shareholders. Dunlop says that technology can be the enabler for this future if we embrace its power and actively use it to drive equity.

 

The Bad:

Despite our general reluctance to look at alternative options of workforce and working in favour of traditional forms of work, work patterns and hours, change is arriving fast. Our future will be one where machine learning, robotics and automation will radically change the way we work.

Looking at the current labour market, it is easy to understand predictions that much of “Working Australia” operating in unstructured environments and with flexible hours will be the first to face automation. According to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), approximately 36 per cent of Australian jobs face a significant or high risk of automation, and it is expected for young people without tertiary education will be most affected, given their higher rates of under-employed, non-employed or low pay. In short: more young people struggling to get work.

 

The Ugly:

Dunlop expects higher paying knowledge roles and lower paid essential caring and healing jobs to remain mostly unchanged.  Rather, he asks what jobs will be created and who will and won’t have access to them?  His prediction is that “Working Australia” will be most impacted by technology and automation, carving out a deeper hole in equality and opportunity. He says that for generations we have rewarded the stewards of extraction far more that the stewards of renewal, and without a significant refocus we are set to continue driving a greater wedge between the “haves “and “have nots”.

 

The Way Forward:

To counter this, Dunlop paints a vision for economic and social equality, that values participation and contribution to society, rather than just labour, which can be enabled by technology. Rather than leaving wealth distribution to the invisible hand and being fearful of the impending change, he says we need to lean into technology. Technology can allow workers to improve their productivity, but instead of lining the pockets of our shareholders with the margin earned from these efficiencies, use the reclaimed working hours to innovate, and create social solutions (or, solve social problems) and increase quality of life.

We've seen this already through the likes of Hire Up providing more choice to customers, OurSay allowing people to participate in local decision-making, or Square Up enabling electronic payment for any business.

Dunlop argues that we are on the verge of a technological shift large enough to impact us as much as climate change.  We need to decide what future we want rather than let history dictate our future.

Of course, this approach requires us to reimagine the way we value our work and a fundamental shift in prospering Australia’s rich (10% of Australians hold 49% of the wealth), which will in no way be an easy task.

These technologies have the potential to disrupt the very fabric upon which we have built our way of working. And these technologies will, on the whole, increase productivity and drive a surplus. So, if technology and therefore productivity is coming, how will you innovate, create or solve with the surplus?