Indigenous ventures left behind by VC funds

- December 16, 2020 2 MIN READ

Despite paying lip service to diversity and inclusivity, Venture Capitalists have forgotten one important sector of the startup space – indigenous entrepreneurs. In spite of raising over $1.4 billion in the last year, the median funding invested in Indigenous ventures remains $0.

According to Dean Foley, founder of Indigenous Accelerator Baryamal, the push to include first nation entreprenurs in fund raising bids is long overdue. Foley says he knew how little VCs were investing in first nation entrepreneurs, but after reaching out to local VC firms to get clarity on the situation, he discovered the situation was dire. First Nations people are being overlooked by investors in Australia.

“When I first started Barayamal a few years ago I would hear things from the leaders of the startup space that they didn’t know Indigenous entrepreneurs actually exist, and helping Indigenous people was definitely not high on their priority but I wasn’t expecting venture VC firms to outright not invest anything in Indigenous ventures.”

Foley said whilst he understood VC firms have a fiduciary duty to their investors he wondered if the large institutions who invest in these funds would be interested in investing in smaller return ventures if given the opportunity to support First Nations people by VC firms.

“First Nations people in Australia have been innovating for thousands of years from being the world’s first bakers to building one of the world’s most comprehensive and oldest aquaculture systems which is older than Egypt’s pyramids.

“In addition, despite only making up 5 per cent of the world’s population, Indigenous people protect 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity – the results from supporting Indigenous Entrepreneurship goes without saying.”

Foley said despite VC firms in Australia raising a record $1.4 billion this year and billions in total, zero percentage has been invested in Indigenous ventures.

“Unfortunately in the lucky country, the most unlucky people are the Traditional Owners which is a bit ironic,” Foley concluded.

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