Welcome to Country is a not-for-profit organisation whose purpose is to address employment and economic development outcomes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As a not for profit driven by our purpose, everything we do is focused on delivering direct outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and communities.
“We do not have shareholders or owners who receive profits. All profits made are directed towards achieving our purpose.”
Welcome to Country operates as a social enterprise. We are a majority Aboriginal led team with our main office located in Sydney. Across the team we have deep tourism, arts and culture experience. We provide a marketplace to sell experiences and products. We also provide some support services which we are seeking to expand.
Why tourism and retail?
Initially our focus was the tourism industry and the simple answer was that it is one of the few industries in which jobs and economic outcomes could be achieved wherever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are located – from the biggest of cities to the remotest of locations. But equally it allows people to stay connected with culture and for communities to thrive.
But 2020 with initially bush fires and then with COVID 19, we started to explore related areas where we could continue our work and most importantly deliver on our purpose. In August 2020 we launched the first version of our online retail marketplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander products.
What is your criteria for experiences and products listed on your store?
We are guided by our purpose in determining the range of products and experiences listed in our marketplace, that is they must assist us deliver on creating jobs and economic development outcomes. If they fail this test they will not be listed.
For experiences, we list Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander owned experiences. We also list non-Indigenous businesses but only where Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people are employed to deliver the tours and experiences.
For our retail marketplace, we list items that we directly source from Art Centres, Artists or manufactures that pay fair royalties. In the case of manufactures, we rely on advice from the art centres and artists they licence designs from to determine if we will stock products.
Why purchase with us?
Every purchase that you make helps us deliver on our purpose. You are not only buying an amazing experience or a beautiful product; you are helping to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander economy and create jobs.
“The added bonus with purchasing through our not for profit social enterprise you are supporting Aboriginal employment within our business and through our suppliers! ”
When we set out on this journey, we were looking for ways in which the collective skills of a group of passionate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people could be applied to amplify outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Largely this skills set was centred in a deep knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and entrepreneurial skills.
Initially established as a project of First Australians Capital Limited (a registered charity) with financial support from Indigenous Capital Limited and a private philanthropic family the project explored ideas that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait entrepreneurs and business to be established and grow. The core of this was an online platform called Start Your Own Business.
Through a discovery workshop supported by Westpac, the idea was refined and eventually it was agreed that one of the greatest opportunities was within the tourism sector and that the project should refocus on building a marketplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences.
The creation of a marketplace for art and product was always an element of the Welcome to Country business model. This element was accelerated with the advent of COVID-19. The decision was made to expedite the creation of the marketplace to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, art centres and communities with a revenue stream during this time.