American Express, in partnership with Rare Birds, has announced a First Nations Business Growth Program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business leaders with mentorship, masterclasses and virtual networking events.
The 12-month pilot program will see 20 Supply Nation Certified businesses receive backing from American Express and Rare Birds.
First Nations Business Growth program to provide support
Stephen Pendergast, Vice President, SME Global Commercial Services and Reconciliation Action Plan Executive Sponsor, American Express said The First Nations Business Growth Program is about celebrating the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islancer businesses and supporting financial resilience within the community.
“The First Nations Business Growth Program is part of American Express’ ongoing commitment to closing the inequality gap and to driving inclusive initiatives as we continue our Reconciliation Action Plan journey,” Pendergast said.
Jo Burston, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Rare Birds said, nine in ten (87 per cent) of mentees felt more confident about their business capability after participating in the Rare Birds program and 81 per cent experienced business growth.
“I like to call high-impact mentoring the ‘MBA of Life Skills’,” Burston says. “It isn’t theory; it’s hard-learned experience that’s passed on through one-to-one open and trusting dialogue.”
The benefits of mentorship
Ambassador of the First Nation’s Business Growth Program, Leah Cameron, a former Rare Birds Mentee says the mentorship she received improved her confidence.
“I found my mentoring program incredibly beneficial for both my personal growth and for my business development. Not only did I learn invaluable skills, but I also gained a lot of confidence. I am delighted to be the Program’s ambassador.”
According to Supply Nation’s “State of Indigenous Business” research report, the pandemic has further exacerbated the barriers to business of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Supply Nation found the pandemic’s rapid marketplace digitisation has widened the divide however it also presents an opportunity to support First Nations businesses with the essential knowledge and resources they need to grow. The report states Indigenous businesses are calling for greater support and connection to industry through initiatives such as mentoring programs.
“We certainly welcome American Express’ mentoring initiative and we support opportunities that allow our Certified businesses to leverage expertise across diverse industries,” said Supply Nation’s Chief Executive Officer Laura Berry.
Applications for the First Nations Business Growth Program are open until are open from 5pm AEDT, 24 September 2021. For more details visit: americanexpress.com.au/firstnationsbusinessgrowth.
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