The University of Newcastle, Australia

Indigenous entrepreneurship research assists international communities

Monday, 2 June 2014

University of Newcastle professor shares Indigenous entrepreneurship expertise with researchers at First Nations University of Canada.

Professor Dennis Foley

Professor Dennis Foley, a professor in the School of Humanities and Social Science at UON, has been awarded a 2014 Partnership Development Grant by the Canadian Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, and was recently in Canada to consult on two projects. The first involves introducing Indigenous entrepreneurship in high schools, and the second looks at strategic alliances between First Nations and industry in the natural resources sector.

Professor Foley said his work with researchers at First Nations University of Canada has little to do with academics. It's about exchanging fresh ideas for old problems.

"It's about looking at things with a unique angle," said Professor Foley. "For example, there may be a problem on the reserve and people on the reserve can't see it. But if someone from another reserve comes in, they can see the problem right away. We may think the same, but we all look at things from different angles."

Professor Foley believes entrepreneurship is the key to breaking cycles of negativity in Indigenous communities.

"Financial independence is self-determination. When you are financially independent, you can have choices. So many good people don't have any choices. When you are in a poverty cycle or poverty rut or welfare rut, you don't have choices."

Professor Foley will now head to Halifax where he will deliver a paper at the Canadian Consortium of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference.

I have a wonderful relationship with Canada," he said, referring to networks established with the University of Regina, The Banff Centre, and his previous involvement as a Chief Investigator in a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant on Indigenous entrepreneurship.

After his visit to Canada, Professor Foley is off to the Dublin Institute of Technology to take up a visiting Fellowship for a month and continue his field research. He will be collaborating with Professor Thomas Cooney, a professor in entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology, on Travellers – a traditionally itinerant people of ethnic Irish origin. 

While he is there, he will also deliver two research papers at the International Consortium of Small Business Conference in Dublin.

Australia's first professor in Indigenous entrepreneurship, Professor Foley is deeply interested in the research of native cultures the world over. He has a strong presence within the local Indigenous community and business sector and is a sought-after researcher throughout Australia and internationally.

Recently appointed to the Federal Minister for Small Business (The Honourable Bruce Billson MP) Advisory Board, as the Indigenous Adviser on Small Business, Professor Foley is the only academic to sit on the board.

  • Jessie Reid
  • Phone: +61 2 4921 7458

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