World Indigenous People’s Forum, Rotorua, New Zealand

The World Indigenous Business Forum is an international gathering of Indigenous business owners, stakeholders and researchers. Established in 2011 and conceived by the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute in Canada, this annual event is hosted in a different nation each year.

This year’s WIBF was held in Rotorua. I had an opportunity to speak about Indigenous Business Month at the Researcher’s Symposium Day and then attend the remaining days of the Forum, including the final day of field trips.

My presentation focused on Indigenous Business Month and how it evolved from a relationship between practitioners (ie. Indigenous business owners) and the academy through the Murra Business Masterclass. The theme of the researcher’s symposium was about this relationship – how academics can better work with Indigenous business owners. As seems to be the norm at First Nations events, the experiences of those in other countries is very similar and familiar to that here at home.

My key takeaways from #WIBF2018 –

  1. Context matters: Sharing knowledge about the experience of Indigenous business in different countries and communities is valuable. In order to understand what is happening in any place, you need to have an understanding of the history-social, cultural, legal and economic – to help it made sense. Having a bit of a knowledge about what happens in other parts o the world helps.
  2. Investing for the long-term: This focus was repeated a number of times by different speakers across the five days. Having a 100 year instead of a 100 day focus is vital for ensuring that we can are better placed to grow sustainable economies. This also allows us to make mistakes and learn from them.
  3. Know the value of, and practice collaboration: Using local knowledge is important for building businesses and collaboration is vital. This message was repeated often but particularly on the last day during the tourism field trips. Collaboration between iwi (traditional owners) and a variety of local operators allows everyone to achieve their goals.
  4. Know your purpose: Understanding what we do and why we’re doing it helps us manage the difficult years, but also helps keep us true to purposes and not get distracted by ‘shiny objectives’.
  5. Global sharing: It’s incredibly when you attend a First Nations event just how familiar the stories, experiences and histories are. Sharing across cultures and nations gives you new ideas you can take home, as well as learning that you’re not alone.

The World Indigenous Business Forum in Rotorua was a unique experience – business learnings finely interlaced with culture and history.

For me and my business, while it’s not a must have, it’s definitely a nice to have. If you have an opportunity to attend one, I’d do it.