Narrawallee-based organisation, Food Futures Company Ltd, has received a major grant to address barriers preventing girls and women entering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.
The grant comes from the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources as part of the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WiSE) program.
Food Futures Company Ltd, which aims to support, commercialise and invest in agile startups, entrepreneurs and disruptive technologies to be the vehicles of change for a better food system, is one of eight WiSE grant recipients.
Skye Raward, executive director and co-founder said the native food and agriculture sector has great opportunities both within STEM and entrepreneurship disciplines, but participation from Indigenous people, especially women, is very low.
Data reveals that less than two per cent of participants in the native agriculture and food sector are led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"So we started thinking about how might address this and attract more Indigenous women to this sector," Ms Raward said.
"The lack of Indigenous women in the native agriculture and food sector became even more evident at an accelerator event for early-stage businesses led by Food Futures, Ideas2Business. While 50 per cent of businesses participating in the program were Indigenous led, only one was led by an Indigenous woman."
WiSE funding aims to help Food Futures Company to support the next generation and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entrepreneurs enter the native agriculture and food sector.
"Our program will develop an entrepreneurship pathway for Indigenous girls in Years 9-11 and young women in TAFE and university to inspire them to consider STEM based and entrepreneurship careers in the future," Ms Raward said.
"We will also be supporting Indigenous women of any age who may be looking for help to either kick-start new ventures or grow their already established businesses in the native food and agriculture sector."
Food Futures believes the native food and agriculture sector offers many opportunities to integrate ancient knowledge, technology, science and cultural connections with modern practices in future STEM-based and entrepreneurship career pathways.
They work closely with Indigenous advisors to guide them and deliver cultural components of the program such as these.
The full list of WiSE grant recipients can be found at business.gov.au/grants-and-programs.