1 March 2024

Inaugural QIBN boss wants Cape York and Torres Strait business owners to taste global success

| Lyndon Keane
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Thursday Island woman and Medal of the Order of Australia recipient Donisha Duff has been appointed as the first chief executive officer of the Queensland Indigenous Business Network. Photo: Supplied.

Indigenous entrepreneurs from Cape York and the Torres Strait will have a footprint on the global economic stage if the inaugural chief executive officer of the Queensland Indigenous Business Network (QIBN) has her way.

QIBN announced last week that Donisha Duff would take the reins as the organisation’s first CEO after holding other executive roles, including as chief operating officer of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, and being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2024 Australia Day honours list.

Ms Duff is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait woman from Thursday Island, with family links to Badu, Moa and Mabuiag Islands, and the Wuthathi Traditional Owners of eastern Cape York.

Speaking to Cape York Weekly, she said she was excited to join the newly formed organisation, which aims to serve as a voice and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses across Queensland.

Ms Duff said while local bricks-and-mortar businesses would always play an important role, technology meant business owners could now target customers anywhere on the planet.

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“I think, for me, the vision is global, but I definitely want to focus on the local business growth and development, too,” she explained.

“Living in a remote community, it’s about having fast internet and ecommerce, and upskilling our mob so they can do that.

“You can live in Aurukun or Badu Island and sell to the world.”

After moving into the CEO’s office on 21 February, 2024, Ms Duff said one of her priorities was using her experience and connections to help Indigenous entrepreneurs navigate the maze of business startup, development and networking, and said technology would play a vital role in achieving this ambition.

“Theres’s momentum that’s building behinds the scenes for us to be able to achieve globally while you live in community with technology,” Ms Duff said.

“It’s looking at how you get those introductions and build on the existing relationships that are in place.

“What’s going to blow the minds of our kids?

“Theres the potential to be anything you want to be now through that connectivity.”

New QIBN boss Donisha Duff, pictured with her son, Alistair, has strong links to the Torres Strait and eastern Cape York. Photo: Supplied.

QIBN’s co-chair Shane Kennelly said Ms Duff’s appointment signalled a pivotal step for the organisation and Indigenous business prosperity in Queensland.

“Donisha is an outstanding choice to lead QIBN, bringing a proven track record in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisational management, leadership, policy and stakeholder engagement,” he said.

“We are thrilled to welcome a CEO of Donisha’s calibre and experience to navigate QIBN through this exciting new chapter.”

Ms Duff said she believed her leadership and advocacy could help established Indigenous businesses, as well as empower those with a kernel of inspiration looking to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.

“This is about making a real and tangible step forward for us in the business community,” she said.

“I truly want to build a strong and inclusive community of First Nations business owners who can collaborate, partner and learn from each other moving forward.”

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