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Commonwealth Bank and Indigenous Business Australia partner to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs

Friday, 4 October 2013 | By Gavin Lower

Indigenous Business Australia and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have formed a partnership to provide indigenous Australians with a micro-enterprise loan and finance package.


The Community Business Finance package will provide eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to start or grow a business with a package of banking products and services specific to their individual needs, the IBA says in a statement.


“IBA and Commonwealth Bank share a commitment to supporting the establishment and growth of a vibrant indigenous business sector and to improve the economic self-sufficiency of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, with IBA customers enjoying a business survivability rate of 90% after one year, 79% after two years and 68% after three years,” IBA chief executive Chris Fry says in the statement.


Under the initiative, Commonwealth Bank will provide a package of financial products and services up to $50,000, with IBA helping to source customers and providing business planning and mentoring services to help eligible customers establish, develop and grow their business.


Fry says five indigenous entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the new product so far.


Businesses have included a health retreat, art broker and fish and chip shop.


Kirsti McQueen, IBA’s general manager – enterprises, told StartupSmart the partnership aimed to address a gap in business ownership in Australia.


She says about 15% of the wider Australian community are self-employed, while only about 6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people worked for themselves.


“When closing the broader disadvantage gap we want to see people participate in the broader economy,” she says.


McQueen says the partnership with the Commonwealth Bank aimed to help clients who may not be “bank ready”, such as those who did not have a credit history or equity to contribute to a loan.