World Indigenous Business Forum 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand

The World Indigenous Business Forum in Rotorua, New Zealand

11/16/18 07:31:am

The World Indigenous Business Forum is considered the premier international business event for Indigenous peoples. Te Ohu Wahi Ao Trust (TOWA) hosted the 2018 Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand. The Native Nations Institute (NNI) felt honored to attend the event and to contribute to the conversations on strengthening the place of Native nations in business. Torivio Fodder (Taos Pueblo), NNI Indigenous Governance Program Manager, and Stephen Cornell, NNI Faculty Chair, participated on the International Indigenous Researchers Panel during the pre-conference symposium.

Stephen Cornell presenting at World Indigenous Business Forum 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand

The pre-conference panel focused on the question: How Can Business Practitioners and Academics Work Together? Fodder talked about NNI's Indigenous Governance Program (IGP) as an example of how educational opportunities grounded in fact-based research can empower local Indigenous leaders with the tools necessary to build strong and effective Native nations. Fodder added that "NNI is strengthening Indigenous governance both at home and abroad by sharing the lessons we have accumulated in over thirty years of work with Indigenous communities. Our outreach is truly global." The panelists all echoed the message that academic insights can inform successful business practices.

Cornell spoke about the intersection between research and Indigenous business practices. He noted at least five critical areas that deserve attention from both researchers and practitioners:

  • What is the role of Indigenous business development? Is it an end unto itself, or is it a means to a different end?
  • If it is a means to another end, what is that larger purpose that Indigenous development should serve, and how will that answer inform future business decisions?
  • How do you translate successful business into broader community benefit?
  • How do you manage the challenges that come with success?
  • Lastly, how do communities shape development strategies to balance nation-owned business with individual citizen enterprise?

The conference coincided with the quarterly meeting of an exciting new partnership that the IGP has developed with three of the universities represented on the panel: Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, British Columbia, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia, and the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. The four partners have been working together for the past two years to develop reciprocal academic programming in Indigenous governance for students at each institution.

The U of A's January In Tucson (JIT), UTS's October in Sydney, and SFU's June in Vancouver (JiV) are examples of partner programs that provide participants with comprehensive opportunities to learn and apply lessons in Indigenous business and governance. The group hopes to make a formal announcement on its progress in 2019. Stay tuned!

Images: Roger Dennis of Serendipity Architects, NZ presenting on nanotechnology and Indigenous business (top), Stephen Cornell presenting on the intersection between research and Indigenous business practices

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