By Leesa Watego, 2022
I’ll try to explain.
Personally I’m an Aboriginal and South Sea Island woman and mother living and working in Brisbane. I live surrounded by and am obligated to my family and community.
Professionally I’m the Managing Director of Iscariot Media (IM) and Associate Professor of Practice at QUT Business School, and the volunteer President of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. I’m the co-founder of Black Coffee and have driven and funded its growth across the nation. I’m also a co-founder of Indigenous Business Month.
In all my roles my goal is to support my communities through the growth of the Indigenous Business Sector.
I’m not sure if I chose business or it chose me.
Sometimes I get paid for this work, for example IM is delivering a state-wide Indigenous business small growth program called One Business, or we work directly with Indigenous businesses, helping them write their capability statements, or designing their logos.
Other other times it’s volunteer, for example serving six years on the Queensland Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group, and doing countless unpaid talks to industry groups and organisations talking about Indigenous business.
Sometimes my role is practical and you’ll see me delivering small business training in a workshop, while other times it’s advocacy and I’m in a room of government folks trying to get policies changed so they work for Indigenous businesses.
I am passionate about small business!
To me, small business can provide opportunities for individuals and communities to be agents of change in their families and communities.
As a small business owner you can explore ideas and solve problems. Whether you're for- or not-for profit you can still make a difference.
For me small business is a lever and a tool.
How that relates to engaging, elevating and embedding cultural practice is not really the question for me. It’s not for me to answer that question or for me to decide.
I see my role as providing tools, knowledge and understanding to enable women to decide for themselves how they engage, elevate and embed their cultural practice.
I don’t do that work because I can’t. It’s not my place.
All I can do is to help fertilise the ground that others can start planting.
Answering the question - how do we actively engage, elevate and embed the cultural practice, voices and work of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Islander women in our workplaces and relationships?' - is not easy for me.
I love this provocation. It’s really forced me to think about how to respond.
You see I don’t think I do play a role. Well kind of. But not really.