Businesswomen are the focus of this year's Indigenous Business Month
Five years ago, Wiradjuri woman Mayrah Sonter was out of work and at a loss.
Now, she's part of a duo running one of Australia's most respected Indigenous media and events companies.
Mayrah is a graduate of the MURRA Indigenous Business Program at Melbourne Business School, which raises the business capabilities of Indigenous Australians. She joined the class after a professional setback.
"I lost my job, a dream job at the time, and was at a real fork in the road. Do I get a new job, study more, start a business? I didn't even consider business as a career choice. Then I discovered MURRA and realised it was actually suited to me," she says.
Mayrah quickly discovered role models in her class who inspired her to give business a try.
"I absolutely loved MURRA. My cohort had some amazing people from all around the country, who inspired the idea behind Indigenous Business Month, to share our business success stories and breakdown the negative stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."
Indigenous Business Month runs throughout October and has 30 events across Australia and, for the first time, New Zealand. The theme of this year's event is about Indigenous women leaders to coincide with that of NAIDOC Week: "Because of her, we can."
"Aboriginal women are so suited to being businesswomen," says Mayrah. "Our women are innovative, natural leaders in our communities and serial multi-taskers. Indigenous business is an exciting space, so get to know them and be a part of what they share."
After graduating from MURRA, Mayrah co-founded 33 Creative along with Deadly Vibe Group CEO Georgia Cordukes. The company has grown in four years to be one the biggest Indigenous media and events agency in the country.
"Georgia and I worked together at Deadly Vibe Group for eight years together and knew we were a great team. So, we said let's give 33 Creative a crack, working six months from home, in coffee shops and without paying ourselves," Mayrah says.
"Now, we have six full time staff and are proud of the body of work our team has achieved together. We have produced work that we believe is helping to change the hearts and minds of Australians whilst empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"In addition to the communications campaigns and media work for various clients, we have also produced the 10th Anniversary of the Apology for the Healing Foundation, 40th Anniversary of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and the Constitutional Recognition Dialogues that resulted in the Uluru Statement."
While proud of all of the teams amazing work, Mayrah says Indigenous Business Month is an initiative that she's extremely proud of.
"At MURRA, we were asked what we were going to do to lift our communities as a collective of Indigenous entrepreneurs. Regardless of what we wanted to do, we needed a platform to build our ideas on and that turned into Indigenous Business Month," she says.
Co-founded by Associate Professor Michelle Evans and fellow MURRA alumni Leesa Watego of Iscariot Media, Indigenous Business Month has grown with the support of MURRA alumni to become the largest celebration of Indigenous business nationally.
"It really is a grassroots movement to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into business as a career opportunity and build a stronger future for the mob established on the principles of self-determination, entrepreneurialism and community."
For more information and a full list of events, visit the Indigenous Business Month website.