“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