This was originally published in LBF News in April 2012. The story from the Australian was written by Patricia Karvelas.
JANICE Bryant Howroyd, the second- wealthiest African-American woman behind Oprah Winfrey, will today tell a conference of Aboriginal business leaders that Australia is giving impoverished black people better opportunities for economic success than anywhere in the world, even outstripping the US.
The billionaire businesswoman, addressing the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council’s Connect 2012 conference, will argue that the barriers facing African- Americans and Australian Aborigines are very similar, but that opportunities here are potentially greater.
Ms Howroyd is founder and chief executive officer of ACT-1 Group, the largest employment agency owned by a minority woman in the US.
“I come back to Australia more excited, in many ways, about the opportunities for your indigenous people than for economically disadvantaged people anywhere else, including in the US,” she told The Australian.
Ms Howroyd was part of an American delegation to support the formation of AIMSC, a not-for-profit body that certifies indigenous suppliers for Australian companies and government agencies looking to buy goods and services from indigenous businesses.
Ms Howroyd compared the challenges faced by Aborigines with those experienced by African-Americans. “The overt sameness of our challenges as peoples of colour create hard perceptions of ‘difference as inferiority’, and that makes us very much the same, no matter how developed our businesses and or expertise may be,” she said.
“We often do not have anyone close to us who can share or mentor in critical ways. We both face barriers to finance and we both often become providers for our families and communities in ways that are more demanding than is often imagined or discussed.”
Ms Howroyd said she was honoured to be here, “back to witness that Australia has meant what she said in apology to these wonderful people who nurtured this land for thousands of years prior to new arrivals”.
“Australia’s apology and new initiatives are a message to the world, and the US, that there is pride and opportunity in doing the right thing by all of a nation’s peoples.”
AIMSC chief executive Natalie Walker said Ms Howroyd’s success in business and as a woman from a minority background represented “our future and everything that’s possible when entrepreneurship in minority communities is actively supported”.