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Accountant Tish Bhagwandeen empowers Indigenous businesses with the knowledge to take financial control
Running a business

Accountant Tish Bhagwandeen empowers Indigenous businesses with the knowledge to take financial control

The 2022 NAIDOC Week theme “Get up! Stand up! Show up!” highlights and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ proud history, culture and achievements. 

For far too long, the responsibility for change has weighed heavily on the shoulders of those equipped with the fewest resources. But after months of dialogues across Australia with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, First Nations delegates finally called for the Australian people to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.

Today, NAIDOC is not only a week of celebrations, but also a call to action for our community to come together and effect change together. 

Accounting is more than numbers

Tish Bhagwandeen, member of QuickBooks’ Trainer Writer Network (TWN) and Founder and Director of Infinance Solutions, has helped many businesses within the Indigenous community to become more financially literate.

“I am extremely passionate about partnering with the Indigenous community. I firmly believe that if we are going to effect meaningful change, then the best way of achieving this is by empowering businesses with the knowledge to take financial control. As such, I have developed a workshop that focuses on educating business owners on financial literacy,” Tish says.

Through these workshops, Indigenous business owners are equipped with the toolkit to manage their businesses more effectively.

“Growing up in apartheid South Africa has given me a unique perspective on the social, ethical and economic challenges faced by Indigenous entrepreneurs. One of the key factors in closing this gap is to achieve transformation through education and knowledge sharing,” Tish says.

“For me, accounting is more than just numbers. It’s about getting to know your clients on a personal level, understanding their business challenges, aspirations, and providing the right support and structure to navigate these challenges.

“I see my role as being broader than an accountant; I am an ally and agitator for change. We all have a responsibility to get up, stand up and show up for each other. Businesses today are looking for an advisor who can provide the right guidance and growth advice to flourish,” Tish says.

One of the businesses that Tish helped to set up financially was Taka Gin co., a First Nations female-led native gin company, founded by proud Aboriginal woman, Niyoka Bundle; her husband and Manx Man, Vincent Manning; and their son Finlo. 

Niyoka first reached out to Tish when she was looking for an experienced accountant to help her secure start-up funding for her first business, Pawa Catering. Since then, Tish has been mainly working with Indigenous start-ups, assisting them with their financial decision-making and setting them up for success.

Tell us the story behind Taka Gin co.

Niyoka Bundle: Taka Gin co. is a drink that is inspired by Indigenous fusion flavours from First Nations people’s botanicals, some of which are hand foraged in Melbourne. The journey to make Taka Gin co. was inspired by our first brand, Pawa Catering, a native fusion catering company that my husband and I built together in 2019. Coming from a hospitality background, we both have a lot of experience in recipe development. 

Pawa means to cook in my language, which is from the Gunditjmara people of South West Victoria. We cater for all corporate office catering, events, conference and functions and communities organisations in Melbourne.

During the pandemic, when we realised we would not be working, we had to think of ideas on how we could use our skills and experience to get something off the ground as quickly as possible to bring in some income, while doing something we love. 

We went through many ideas and kept coming back to a drink. In our catering company, we make a lemon myrtle iced tea and we knew that this went well with gin. So we tested multiple flavour combinations and researched how unique we could get, and drawing on knowledge from my indigenous heritage, we experimented with lemon scented gum leaf and a few other native plants. 

We then found the award winning Gypsy Hub, which produces their own amazing gin, but also acts as a beverage incubator for small craft gin businesses such as ourselves. We worked with them to produce the lemon scented gum leaf and native lemongrass gin. Once we locked in our gin recipe we then knew we needed to create a brand and that reflected how unique the gin and our story is.

Tell us more about your product and mission statement

Niyoka Bundle: Our mission statement is to inspire interest in First Nations businesses and showcase our unique fusion products using native Australian Foods. We want to create a respectful partnership with everyone involved in our services and provide a place of learning, development, and employment for the community. Our aim is to maintain First Nations employment in production and manufacturing for our future projects. 

What have been your challenges and successes? 

Niyoka Bundle: It has been challenging to launch a completely new brand, while competing with large established brands. We built our way up by engaging with our market organically before we were ready to sell. Word of mouth was a big help in our business at the start. We used the lockdown to our benefit and offered free shipping to Melbourne locals and it went very well. I think getting our gin into some high profile places such as Dan Murphy's (selected stores) Amazon and The Arts Centre Melbourne, has helped us strengthen our very new reputation and build us up. We have had very positive responses to our gin.

The theme for NAIDOC this year is the perfect summary of what's coming for this country. Let’s continue to support Indigenous businesses not just in NAIDOC week or when it’s trending, we need people to get up, show and stand up for us collectively.

How has QuickBooks helped you to help run your business? 

Niyoka Bundle: I have always used QuickBooks in both my businesses – Pawa Catering and Taka Gin co. QuickBooks is easy for me to use and to keep track of my financial operations. If I need a report, it is only a few quick clicks away. Having a very good accountant like Tish to keep me on track and a financial system in place such as QuickBooks, help us better understand our financial performance. We know where we are financially and where we need to go, all while being financially compliant. This is a key component to a successful business.

About our expert

After 12 years of global experience as an external auditor and financial controller, Tish Bhagwandeen started her own accounting practice called InFinance Solutions. Tish’s focus is on making her skills available to small businesses, helping them develop strategies to manage and grow their businesses. As a TWN, Tish enjoys access to product testing, training other accountants, and gaining insights into how they are using the product. 

About QuickBooks

At QuickBooks, we provide convenient financing software to make managing your business easier. You can use QuickBooks’ tax tracking software for stress-free finance management where all you need to do is review and approve at tax time.

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