Sharon Winsor was not intent on becoming one of Australia’s leading female Indigenous entrepreneurs, it was rather unexpected. In seeking to escape from an abusive relationship and provide for her family, she turned to her knowledge of native foods and love of ‘wild harvesting’ from her childhood, to develop a thriving business. Her traditional knowledge of harvesting native foods has now led to the creation of products such as lemon myrtle sweet chilli sauce, Davidson plum syrup and cosmetics using ingredients such as Kakadu plum, emu oil, lemon myrtle and wild berry. Sharon now finds herself in a position where increased opportunities for international expansion are demanding increased volume and scale from her rural operations, where she works with Indigenous communities. She faces three key challenges about the future of Indigiearth:
How can Indigiearth achieve scale while maintaining profitability and social mission?
How can Indigiearth protect its competitive advantage in the face of increased local agricultural competition, as Indigenous crops increase in value?
How can traditional knowledge be both shared and protected for community development (jobs and wealth creation) and for future generations?
The New Year is close and Sharon already has received large orders coming in from Europe and there is much interest from China and Japan. These decisions will determine how Indigiearth is structured, with whom it needs to partner to develop the Indigenous food industry, and how it will need to work with stakeholders on the issue of traditional knowledge while meeting the growing needs of the company. Sharon has a passion for her native products and wants to preserve the knowledge and respect that goes into her products – the dilemmas she is facing are putting her under immense pressure. She may choose to expand while maintaining the integrity of her business – but how can this be done?