Charles Sturt assists First Nations entrepreneurs to make an impact on their communities

19 MAY 2023

Charles Sturt assists First Nations entrepreneurs to make an impact on their communities

Participants in Charles Sturt's Ready to Launch and inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneur Program will present their ideas at an Innovation Showcase in Wagga Wagga.

  • Charles Sturt hosts inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneur Program and 10th Ready to Launch program
  • An Innovation Showcase for participants of both programs will be held in Wagga Wagga on Thursday 25 May. Tickets for the free event are now available online
  • Both programs are in partnership with the University with support from industry partners and members of the First Nations community

First Nations entrepreneurs are taking their ideas from concepts to reality to build businesses in food and agriculture that embrace or promote First Nations practices and ingredients.

The Charles Sturt University’s Innovation Hubs is running the inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneur Program, in conjunction with Food Futures Company, to encourage First Nations entrepreneurs and early-stage First Nations founders to develop ideas.

Program participant Ms Jackie Price, based in Junee, NSW is the Co-owner of Yield LOT 7 with Mr Craig Maxwell. The company aims to bring Australia’s native herbs and spices to everyday kitchens by pairing them with the iconic yabby.

“We hope that our use of the yabby will help farmers to see their dams not only as a water source for farming, but its own eco system that can be profitable as well,” she said.

“This idea is not new but the use of the shell and by-products to make new food products is.”

Ms Price heard about the program through a friend and wanted to enrol to learn how to manage the growth of her business.

“I had a business before that got too big for me,” she said.

“I thought this program would give me some useful tips on planning and growth.”

Ms Price said the program has given her confidence to talk about her idea in public and contact like-minded companies to investigate different opportunities.

“As a First Nations person, we are always walking in two worlds,” she said.

“Understanding there is a different way to do business is always a step in the right direction for our people, their food sovereignty and the future of our people in general.”

Another participant Ms Felicity Kerslake (pictured) from Wagga Wagga is a naturopath and sports nutritionist and has been developing her idea for years. She enrolled in the program to experience personal and business growth with the support of industry experts.

“I am working on a program and an online platform that teaches people about First Nations foods and native plants and how they can be used to create health, energy and wellbeing,” she said.

“The aim is to reconnect people with nature and culture, getting communities engaged with preventative health strategies to improve health outcomes and to nurture Country for current and future generations.”

Ms Kerslake said the program turned her idea into a sustainable business model and that the connection to First Nations entrepreneurs has been beneficial.

The Charles Sturt Innovation Hubs have run two programs simultaneously – the Indigenous Entrepreneur Program and the 10th iteration of the Ready to Launch program. Participants in both programs will present their ideas as part of an Innovation Showcase in Wagga Wagga on Thursday 25 May. Members of the public, as well as Charles Sturt staff and students, are invited to attend the event.

Manager of the Charles Sturt Innovation Hubs Mr Ged Bourke said it has been a pleasure to watch the progress of participants in both programs.

“What’s stood out this time around is how engaged participants have been and how there’s been a real focus on concepts that are underpinned by a real sense of purpose and vision,” he said.

“Several concepts are based around sustainability, increasing access to the arts or undertaking agriculture or food production from a sustainable perspective.”

"We’re really looking for the regional community to throw their support behind the event,” he said.

“The feedback we had from some of our metropolitan guests last year was that the standard of pitching and event production exceeded many similar events held in the large metropolitan start-up hubs.”

The Innovation Showcase will be held on Thursday 25 May from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Charles Sturt Riverina Playhouse. Tickets for the free event can be reserved online.

Media Note:

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or

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Wagga Wagga Charles Sturt University Indigenous