Commercial development opportunities
In many parts of the country PBCs will have the opportunity to become involved in commercial activities and develop sources of income in addition to the government funding that may be available.
To successfully engage in these commercial activities a PBC will need to develop its capacity to operate in the commercial sector. There are local, regional and national resources available to assist a PBC to develop this capacity, and to support its engagement with the commercial opportunities available in its region.
Over 70 per cent of PBCs are reliant on government funding. Once a native title determination or settlement has been finalised native title holders have more options to start planning how they can build a viable and sustainable organisation.
PBCs will need to make decisions about whether certain types of activities and development can proceed on their country, and will be able to negotiate what the terms, conditions and financial benefits will be.
Opportunities for a PBC to develop alternative sources of income may arise from future act activities within the determination area. It may be possible for a PBC to negotiate benefits for native title holders that include training, employment, contracting, and other opportunities. If a PBC has the capacity, it may be able to enter into joint ventures and partnerships with other parties, or in some circumstances, undertake the proposed activities or development itself.
Opportunities may also exist for a PBC to generate alternative sources of income by developing its own projects. If a PBC can develop the capacity to undertake successful commercial projects it may be possible for a PBC to gradually build an economic base that will support its broader cultural, social and commercial objectives.
How to get started?
It is important that an appropriate rule book is developed and a suitable corporate structure is established. It is equally important that good corporate governance and decision making processes are developed and that people with appropriate skills and experience are appointed as directors. Ensuring that all these elements are in place will provide the PBC with a solid foundation. This will enable it to make appropriate decisions and develop appropriate strategic, operational and business plans and suitable policies to guide and support its objectives and activities.
The Australian Government runs a whole-of-government business website as an entry point for information, services and support with tailored information for your business location. It includes practical help on how to start a business covering all aspects from business planning, marketing, risk management to products including labelling and pricing. It also provides templates such as a starting your business checklist and a business plan template and guide. It also tailors funding and grant and relevant training opportunities according to your postcode.
Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is another government organisation that was created to assist and enhance the economic development opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. They serve, partner and invest with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and assist with developing a business ideas all the way towards a viable business.
In some parts of the country there may also be an opportunity for a PBC to work with, learn from and support other PBCs as part of a regional group. This also includes working with the Native Title Service Provider (NTSP).Such collaborations can provide PBCs with an opportunity to become involved in larger regional projects that they would not have the capacity or resources to undertake by themselves.
There may even be opportunities where native title holders want their PBC to become involved in commercial activities in a sector of the economy that requires specialist expertise or significant capital assets beyond the PBC’s current capacity or resources. In these circumstances it may be possible to build relationships with an established commercial organisation already operating in the sector, as it may be interested in partnering with a PBC in a number of ways including joint venture opportunities.