Ian Trust (Wunan Executive Director) Speaks at UWA Business School Centre for Social Impact Conference

24 February 2012

On 6 December 2011, Wunan executive chairman Ian Trust was one of the keynote speakers at the inaugural UWA Business School Centre for Social Impact conference on Indigenous Business, Corporations and Entrepreneurship.

Ian spoke about how Indigenous enterprises could leverage commercial investments to build a sustainable organisation that targets both economic and social outcomes, using the Wunan Foundation as an example of what is possible.

Ian started by analysing the traditional model of funding an Indigenous not-for-profit organisation through government grants, philanthropy and (where available) royalty payments. He discussed how this model constrains innovation, requires almost constant lobbying and grant writing, and is inherently uncertain.

Ian then turned to model where those traditional sources of funding are supplemented by commercial investments and fee-for-service income, thereby providing the organisation with greater flexibility and autonomy. He discussed how organisations could work with Indigenous Business Australia and the Indigenous Land Corporation to secure commercial assets, and outlined some of the opportunities to provide services (for a fee) to both government agencies and other organisations.

Ian capped off his presentation by emphasising that financing was only one part of the equation, and that success for Indigenous enterprises is also driven by: strong apolitical governance structures; partnerships with business, government and other service providers; access to good external expertise; leadership continuity; long-term vision; and a strategy for achieving that vision.

Topic: Living Change