The short story

Gulbarn is an 100% Indigenous-owned business. 

The long story

As you may have read in Our Story, the Gulbarn tea business was established in 2015 by Samara Billy. From the very beginning it was supported by Enterprise Learning Projects, a not-for-profit organisation that supports remote entrepreneurs to develop and grow businesses.

Gulbarn was initially piloted under ELP. It was registered first as a business name under ELP’s ABN and then, in 2019, it was registered as its own private company (but still a subsidiary of ELP). The aim at the time was to allow Gulbarn to get started without carrying the burden of navigating an unfamiliar Western compliance system.

ELP’s current model and philosophy is to not own any other Indigenous businesses but to rather support remote entrepreneurs to grow their existing businesses and positively impact their communities.

In 2020, after a decade as CEO, Founder Laura Egan departed ELP. Since that time ELP began an ownership review process of Gulbarn and has been working closely with Samara and the Minyerri team to re-evaluate what the community wants from the business. 

From the community’s perspective, there remains a strong desire for young people to have access to jobs and opportunities in Minyerri. Gulbarn also enables multi-generational knowledge-sharing and valuable time together on Country. But they currently find aspects of the business stressful and time-consuming. 

At this point in time (mid 2021), Samara and her fellow Gulbarn team members do not want to be the sole owner(s) of the Gulbarn business. They are keen to work with an appropriate partner so that the business is well supported and can benefit the broader Minyerri community.

As it is a legacy partner, ELP will remain the caretaker owner of Gulbarn Pty Ltd until the community finalises their preferred ownership structure, however long that process takes. It remains ELP’s focus to support Samara, Agnes and the Minyerri team to achieve their vision for the Gulbarn business. 

ELP is an Indigenous-controlled not-for-profit organisation with a wholly Aboriginal board and an Aboriginal co-CEO, Liandra Gaykamangu. You can read more about ELP at www.elp.org.au 

Any Gulbarn profit distributions are determined by the community.

ELP staff and contractors work closely with the Minyerri team on day-to-day business operations and ELP separately covers the costs associated with undertaking this work.