Serial entrepreneur and Indigenous Australian Dion Devow grew up surrounded by strong role models. Now, he’s committed to being one himself, and paving the way for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners.
After founding his streetwear business Darkies Design 10 years ago, Devow not only went on to found IT recruitment business Yerra, but also to create an innovation network, become a community ambassador, and even establish a basketball team.
“There have always been role models around me,” he says.
Growing up in Darwin, he was “exposed to quite a lot of successful Aboriginal people”, he adds.
“It was just really natural for me, if I wanted to do something, to just know that I could do it.”
In this interview — part of the #ShareThePlatform campaign from One Life Australia and entrepreneur Priyanka Ashraf — Devow chats with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull about how he hopes to be a role model himself, create a community for Aboriginal-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and shine a light on entrepreneurship as a career path for First Nations people.
Devow discusses the double standards faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, as well as the support he’s felt from the broader business community, and his own mother’s horror when she heard the name of his first business.
He also explains why it’s so important to teach Australia’s history from the perspective of its First Nations communities, if we’re to make positive change and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
“We all need to, as Australians in our society, be able to play a part and play a role in bringing about that change,” Devow says.
“The best way to do that is through education.”