The U.S. Consulate General Perth and Minderoo Foundation are supporting the establishment of the groundbreaking program, led by a group of Australian First Nations investors wanting to fund early-stage and high-growth companies.
Known as the ‘Blak Angels,’ they will lead a delegation of 10 First Nations angel investors who will travel to the U.S. in September 2023 to meet with, and learn from Native American, Latino, and African American investors and other leaders in the U.S. investment ecosystem. The Australian delegates are from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Cairns and Kempsey.
Ten American investors, from states including Oklahoma and Arizona will also travel to locations throughout Australia in late 2023 to meet with the ‘Blak Angels’ and other Indigenous business leaders and organisations.
The project’s aim is to facilitate more investment into First Nations start-ups, thereby creating more jobs for First Nations people, and grow people-to-people connections and two-way investment between the U.S. and Australia. The Blak Angels Investment Network will increase Indigenous participation in investment, promoting economic development and empowerment.
Dr Andrew Forrest said Minderoo Foundation has a long and proud history of backing Indigenous business owners and First Nations entrepreneurs.
“Now, we want to empower those same successful businessmen and businesswomen to invest in the next generation of Indigenous businesses by becoming sophisticated investors themselves,” Dr Forrest said.
“The Blak Angels can become a key component to ending disparity for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders because research shows Indigenous businesses are up to 100 times more likely to hire an Indigenous employee than other businesses.
“Empowering these investors will lead to the jobs and working environments needed to create more prosperous First Nations communities.”
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy added the Blak Angels Investment Network is a tangible demonstration of the U.S. and Australia working together to create economic opportunities for underrepresented communities.
“Through these exchanges, investors will gain knowledge, experience, and the people-to-people ties that underpin successful businesses – all of which will expand First Nations investor ecosystems in both our countries,” Ms Kennedy said.”
Blak Angels Executive and Founding Member Morgan Coleman said he is proud to be part of this delegation and to be supporting the growth of First Nations businesses.
“I have experienced first-hand the challenges and barriers faced by Indigenous Australians in starting a business, so to play a role in leading the next generation of entrepreneurs is a great privilege.
“There is growing momentum in the First Nations business sector and an initiative like Blak Angels will help to provide opportunities for First Nations investors and build more capacity within our communities.”