Social Capital & the IndigenousEntrepreneur

Judy Bennett, Wilfred Gordon, February 2010

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Summary :

This paper is written in two voices: Wilfred (Willie) Gordon, a Traditional Owner from the remote Aboriginal Community of Hope Vale, Cape York, who had wanted to develop a tourism business for over a decade; and Judy Bennett, who helped him develop Guurrbi Tours and continued to assist him during the first two years of its operation. Together they collaborated in a participatory action research project, critically assessing how they went about developing his business, so that others could benefit from their experience.

Their findings demonstrate that the policy focus on developing enterprises, rather than enterprising people, has been detrimental to the growth of Indigenous entrepreneurship. Through experiential learning they show the vital role social capital plays in the development of the entrepreneur, the creation of an enterprise and its sustainability.

And they demonstrate how Indigenous tourism entrepreneurship has the capacity to generate social capital, breaking intercultural barriers which have been in place for generations. The paper also shows the real contribution academia can make in the fostering of Indigenous entrepreneurship through participatory

action research, whilst generating a powerful and practical new knowledge which bridges the Indigenous and western worlds, the lived experience and the academic.

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