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Long-term economic health depends a lot on environmental and cultural health. Through its Livelihoods program, NAILSMA has witnessed a rise of Indigenous owned businesses based on natural and cultural resources. These businesses use local skills and traditional knowledge to generate an income and employment with the aim to support people on country.

Wildlife-based businesses that are underway in north Australia are generating income from using:

  • bush plants for products such as soaps and shampoos;
  • wild fruits such as ‘Gubinge’ ‘Kakadu’ or ‘Billy Goat plum’ or scientifically known as Terminalia ferdinandiana as a high source of vitamin C;
  • harvesting of crocodile eggs to grow and produce crocodile skins;
  • fishing and aquaculture;
  • harvesting native reptiles to be captive-reared and sold as pets; and
  • bark and wood for the arts industry.

If developed appropriately, these businesses have potential to generate income, alleviate poverty and enable a measure of economic self-sufficiency, particularly important in remote communities where few other options are available using orthodox approaches.

These potential benefits go well beyond the purely economic to strengthening and using customary knowledge and skills, building community capacity for natural resource governance, keeping people on country, and indirectly promoting better health.

The Livelihoods program is a clear demonstration that Looking after our country...our way can and is contributing to the well-being of north Australia and its Indigenous people - for the national good.

Why are we involved?

Many Indigenous groups across northern Australia are limited in their capacity, expertise and resources to start and establish these kinds of businesses.  Processes include ascertaining market interest and product development interest that go toward the development of sustainable livelihood proposals. Proposals require feasibility studies, business planning, governance exercises, market research, joint venturing, raising capital, training programs, infrastructure development and developing partnerships.

Our focus has been on assisting small to medium sized Indigenous ranger groups in all these processes involved in business management and development. With funds from the Australian Government, we have been able to develop a number of tools to help with development, planning and conducting business. These tools include:

  • Stage 1: Testing a Business Idea or Concept
  • Stage 2: Planning and Doing Business
  • Stage 3: Ideas for Small Business

The tools provide guidance for Indigenous people who are developing small business projects based on wildlife resources. Drawing from some of the Indigenous small businesses that are already developing, as well as relevant business planning documents, a process and issues are outlined for people to consider as they develop their projects.

Building on from its past successes, we intend to continue finding ways to improve cooperation and linkages between natural resource agencies, planning processes and regional Indigenous economic development organisations. This approach will ensure that Indigenous businesses receive the coordinated support they require to be locally relevant and financially sustainable.

Want to know more about our Livelihoods Program?

Go to the Livelihoods Program on the Information Hub.

Find out how to: