Steve Stanton – Powering the Indigenous Economy

First Australians Capital (FAC) has seen a variety of wonderful thought-provoking leaders enter the Indigenous economy, and Gomeroi man Steve Stanton is another worth keeping an eye on.  

From a small-town boy who had never seen the Harbour Bridge to a Senior Executive with over 15 years of experience across a wide range of industries including health services, financial services, technology, agribusiness, social impact investment, housing, and business advisory services. Steve Stanton has come on board as FAC’s new Director of Business Development, with an ambition to build a global economy for First Nations people.  

Keeping Grounded (Culture and Country) 

For Steve, an important centerpiece to his life is having a connection to Culture and Country. 

Steve participating in Cultural practice

“One of the biggest things that keep me grounded in my life is connection to my culture and my country,” Steve said. “It is an important part of who I am.” 

“Without being centered through cultural practices and connection to country, it would be really difficult to navigate the world,” he said. “A part of my responsibility, not only in my role here at FAC, but more broadly as an Aboriginal man – is to continue to pass our culture on to our young people, and make sure that we uphold our responsibility to our country, but also each other.” 

Throughout his studies and early career Steve was often curious about why things are the way they are. By connecting to Elders in his community he was able to gain a better understanding.  

“First Nations people are often passive consumers of economics or business, and mainly through welfare lens, so I had to challenge myself internally on, why that is the case?” Steve said. “Understanding our culture through connection to my community, I began to understand and gain knowledge of my story and where I come from, as well as my responsibility to take action.” 

Creating A New First Nations Global Economy

Steve has a deep passion for social impact and sustainability, and his broad experience providing advice to governments, corporates, the not-for-profit sector and startups nationally and internationally, helps him do just that. 

“I am fascinated with complex problems, having to think differently about solving them and working with others to solve them was sort of a natural area for me,” Steve said. “Understanding what economic development in a global context for First Nations looks like whether that be the complexities of religion in India, and how that works in an economy, then looking at impacts in the U.S., or Australia and New Zealand which have similar invasion stories. It comes down to understanding what support is available and what can be contributed back” 

In recent years Steve’s knowledge, skills, and understanding of the global economic chain have developed, and he has created a space in which he can lead.  

Steve at an orphanage in India

“You have to be introspective, and then you will start to attract different people that take an interest in new relationships in many different forms,” Steve said. “They can be a transactional one-off relationship, or they can have ongoing value. Whoever we surround ourselves with, is important to what our organisation would look like, and you never know in the interest of investors in Aboriginal businesses.” 

Powering the Indigneous Economy through Entrepreneurship

Steve is developing partnerships and business at FAC with the ambition of creating a space where there are more self-determined Indigenous leaders in the business field. 

“In the next 10 to 20 years other young people who have gone to university, or entrepreneurs who create a business, will help bring balance between a cultural perspective, and a business perspective, not only in Australia but even globally,” he said. 

“If you have people who are culturally competent supporting you, who understand what it’s like to be an Aboriginal person. You can knock down barriers, and challenge ideology around systemic racism.” 

However, Steve understands the importance of being a great leader also means understanding those around you. 

“In my journey, whether professional or personal, giving back to the community, but also being humble enough to listen to someone else’s ideas that may even challenge your ideas and values and being able to reflect upon that, is a really important part of leadership,” he said. 

October marks Indigenous Business Month, this year’s theme: Powering the Indigenous Economy. To see more of the work First Australians Capital is doing, take a look at how we work with Businesses and how Investors can support our work, and read our Position Paper: Brave Action for a more just, impact led economy.