Tjanpi Desert Weavers
Strategic Business Plans & Business Mentoring
Since 1995, Tjanpi Desert Weavers (Tjanpi) has been the social enterprise of Ngaanyatjarra
Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council supporting women across 350,000 square
kilometres of the Central and Western Desert region of Australia to create and market fibre art
made from locally collected grasses and other materials. It provides both income and employment
opportunities for over 400 women in NPYlands.
After 15 years of operations Tjanpi found itself facing a significant threat to viability. This was due to loss making activities in the commercial gallery market, along with the prospect of downsizing due to the loss of a grant that was part of the organisation’s heavy reliance on government funding.
Creative Economy undertook an initial strategic review and then developed a new strategic plan in a social enterprise model using Creative Economy’s innovative sustainability framework. The strategy re-established Tjanpi as a social enterprise driven by its original purpose “to contribute to improving the lives of NPY women and their families, by supporting women to earn their own income while coming together on country for cultural activity to create fibre art.”
The result has been an increase in total revenue by 200% through diversification of revenues and significantly reduced dependency on government grants to 20% of total revenue. The innovation and consistency of work of the women of Tjanpi and the strength of the strategic plan secured the largest single investment by the Foundation of Australia’s oldest bank Westpac, who supported the employment of Aboriginal women in the remote desert region.
Founded by Marcus Westbury, Renew Australia is a national social enterprise designed to unlock
under-utilised spaces for creative enterprise to be visible in community revitalisation. Renew
Australia had sought to scale the success of Renew Newcastle nationally, through replicating
projects across Australia and providing training forums. However, this social enterprise model lacked
Creative Economy was engaged to undertake a strategic review, facilitate strategic workshops with the board and staff, and provide business model options to increase immediate and long-term sustainability of the enterprise.
Renew Australia has now rebuilt a viable social enterprise model, which has enabled more than 200 budding creative enterprises access to free space secured by Renew Australia’s partnerships with public and private sector property holders, as well as local and state governments.
Oombarra Productions is an award-winning content creation company working across film, TV,
theatre and literature, which was founded by acclaimed actor and writer Leah Purcell, a proud
Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman and her manager-producing partner Bain Stewart, a
Traditional Owner of Quanda mooka. Like many creative companies, Oombarra Productions was
cycling through the economics of “feast or famine” due to the project life-cycle of scaling up and
Oombarra engaged Creative Economy to shift from a production-based company to a business that harnesses and exploits its creative assets across multiple media and publishing platforms. Creative Economy works with Oombarra to build their business capacity by implementing new business structures and taking a strategic approach to development and growth.
A true multi-media business, Oombarra has built on its achievements by telling stories across multiple content platforms. It has partnerships and deals with major players in the industry including; Fremantle Media, Foxtel, Network TEN, ABC, Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, Screen Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Belvoir Street Theatre.
Small businesses in the creative industries such as filmmakers, visual artists, designers, writers,
fashion designers, and record labels want to maximise their business potential and improve their
entrepreneurial skills. However, business owners and managers in creative industries were unable to
access industry specific business program.
In response, Creative Economy designed Young Entrepreneur’s Success program, Australia’s first national program for small business owners and managers in creative industries. The program was designed by industry professionals who understand the dynamics of creative industries. The program provided small group and individual business mentoring addressing key industry business issues including; intellectual property; business opportunities (making money in the creative economy and business development), attracting investors, buyers and strategic partners.
In total 471 entrepreneurs participated in group mentoring and 12 participants received one-on-one intensive mentoring in Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne and Northern Rivers. Participants reported improved business skills including increased capacity to understand and maximise IP rights, a better understanding of commercial markets, an increased capacity to identify and maximise business opportunities, improved financial management skills and an acquisition of greater industry knowledge and access to networks. As a result participants secured export deals, international licencing agreements, and major commercial distribution deals.
In response to an overwhelming demand from Indigenous organisations and individuals, Creative
Economy developed a national business development program to increase the capacity of
Indigenous people to own and manage sustainable enterprises.
Economic opportunities based on culture give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people their greatest opportunity for sustainable income generation and employment, however, generalised business assistance programs are usually not delivered in regional or remote areas and do not meet the need of Indigenous people who wished to develop enterprise based on their cultural knowledge and talent.
Creative Economy developed a program that provided participants with access to a team of professionals who are qualified and have real world experience in business and cultural sectors. This provided access to expertise in business including; legal, governance, finance and accounting and most importantly market development, including marketing, distribution and sale.
The program succeeded with a ‘hands up’ approach, transferring knowledge to increase business capacity with 4, 123 Indigenous people. With practical assistance and linkages to creative economy networks in national and international markets, participants went on to generate incomes and operate sustainable enterprises.
Mangkaja Arts is a vibrant Aboriginal owned art centre located in the township of Fitzroy Crossing,
400 kilometres east of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It grew out of the
Karrayili Adult Education Centre, with Mangkaja Arts
established in 1983. Its member artists are from the differing language groups,
the Bunuba and Gooniyandi, Walmajarri and Wangkajunga now
living in the Fitzroy Valley.
Art centres face overwhelming operational workloads with insufficient resources. Managers are consumed in day to day operations and urgent priorities and needs. Sustainability requires a shift from short-term project focussed operations to improved business viability that is multi-year and ongoing. Creative Economy has been engaged over a long period time to provide strategic advice to the Board and management. This included providing advice on the contracting and commercial terms of collaboration with fashion label Gorman. This enabled both parties to overcome hesitation of exposure to potential cultural and commercial exploitation
The Mangkaja x Gorman collaboration was successfully launched at the Darwin Art Fair Fashion Show and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The agreement has resulted in a commercially successful range of fashion that provides returns to the Mangkaja artists and increased profile of their artistic works. The agreement ensures Mangkaja as an enterprise also receives revenues from this collaboration enabling it to improve sustainability.
BlackCard was founded on the premise that better outcomes for Aboriginal people could be
achieved if people had greater competency and knowledge of Aboriginal logic and culture to enable
them to work more effectively with Aboriginal people. As a fledgling business,
BlackCard was trying to secure its short-term viability to achieve impact and long-
Creative Economy was engaged to assist develop a viable business model and strategic business plan to achieve longer term sustainability, and at the same time support the succession from founders, Elders Dr Lilla Watson and philosopher and educator Dr Mary Graham to the next generation.
Creative Economy utilised its Sustainability Framework to formulate the business strategy and identified BlackCard’s driving purpose as “Working with people, not for people, with the genius of Aboriginal knowledge. BlackCard’s Aboriginal knowledge strengthens ethical behaviour by enabling people to develop an understanding to undertake the same obligations and responsibilities to Land and to each other as Aboriginal people have practised for thousands of years.”
Since making this strategic shift, BlackCard is now a viable business managed by the next generation of leaders with the support and endorsement of Elders. BlackCard is a provider of choice for major corporations, community and government agencies such as Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac, SBS, University of Queensland and QUT, and was recently awarded the Business Award in the 2019 Queensland Reconciliation Awards.