Trailblazers of culture | Sarina Russo

Trailblazers of culture

By Sarina Russo Editorial Team
Mark outdoors under a tree, with the sun shining brightly
Trailblazers of culture

Mark Koolmatrie, an Aboriginal entrepreneur and trailblazer, has embraced the spirit of self-empowerment through the Self-Employment Assistance program. Mark stands as a visionary force, constructing not only tours but livelihoods for his family and the wider Aboriginal community.

Through meticulously curated tours, Mark unveils the tapestry of cultures, delves into the legacies of past ancestors, and intertwines the narrative of nature's harmony. His passion is palpable, igniting enthusiasm that fuels his tireless promotion of all that South Australia encompasses.

Simultaneously, Mark serves as a captivating educator, sharing his passion within school settings, enriching young minds with insights into Aboriginal heritage, the symbiotic relationship with nature, and the splendors of South Australia. His vibrant commitment breathes life into his pursuits, embodying the essence of a man who ardently carves a brighter future while preserving the profound legacy of the past.

Kool Tours, a Ngarrindjeri family-owned and operated tourism business, is at the forefront of Aboriginal experience tourism, operating throughout the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. They provide first-hand knowledge of life as it was for their ancestors and the current way forward through oneness, shaping the aspirations for the future through the youth.

Mark commenced the New Business Assistance with NEIS program in 2020, facing challenges from the COVID pandemic and decline of visitors. Despite these hurdles, Mark's determination and utilisation of the Self-Employment Assistance program in 2023 empowered him and his family employees to develop their knowledge and run a successful business. The programs helped Mark establish business and financial plans, taking a step-by-step approach to build the business slowly.

Mark attends coaching sessions with enthusiasm and a passion for his business success. He sees being a business owner as not only a significant change for himself but for future generations of First Nations People. He has become a role model, showcasing the possibilities and opportunities available to Indigenous communities for their entrepreneurial journey.

Mark's journey has now reached a pinnacle as he was selected to represent Australia at the upcoming First Nations Visitor Economy Partnership co-designer workshop in Brisbane, in collaboration with Austrade. This platform allows him to support the THRIVE 2030 national strategy for growth and recovery of the visitor economy.

In October 2023, during Indigenous Business Month, Mark proudly celebrates his business. His dedication and perseverance have culminated in being awarded the BizCover Change Award 2023, further highlighting his remarkable journey and contribution to empowering the Indigenous community through entrepreneurship.

Want help to manage and grow your small business?

Sarina Russo offers accredited small business training that can help turn your business idea into reality. In conjunction with the Self-Employment Assistance program, Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs enables Australians to set up and run their own small business. The Self-Employment Assistance is 100% Australian Government funded.

Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs supports candidates as they complete Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business. During this, candidates create a comprehensive business plan and a two-year financial cash forecast. SRE Trainers provide meaningful mentoring for the first twelve months.

Eligible candidates receive the training and support to create a viable business plan, in addition to obtaining a Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business.

For more information, please click here.

Sarina Russo Group acknowledges the First Nations Peoples of this Country, the traditional custodians connected to the land, water and community on which we live, work and help others to live their best lives. We also pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging, who strive to build a better and more sustainable future for future generations to come.