You can be pretty sure glossy brochures of Sydney’s tourist highlights don’t include Redfern, but that’s a missed opportunity according to two UTS MBA students pitching the potential of the inner-city suburb this week in Singapore.
With its long and checkered history, Redfern has been the case study for Nathan Wiltshire and Baptiste Bachellerie in their model for community-driven urban tourism called South of the Border.
The concept was selected for a two-day “boot camp” incubator for social entrepreneurs as part of Social Business Week in Singapore, organised by Grameen Creative Lab in conjunction with the National University of Singapore.
The UTS students have the chance to put their ideas to Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who coined the term social business to describe any business created to solve social problems.
“South of the Border is an innovative concept in tourism that incorporates social benefits to local communities while providing tourists with a deeper insight into local culture, history and lifestyle,” Nathan said.
“Most visitors to the city will think of Sydney Harbour or Bondi Beach, and rightly so. Although just three kilometres away, Redfern is well off the tourist trail. With a history of political and cultural flash points, Redfern has duly earned an abrasive reputation. Yet once you look beneath the surface, the area is rich in history and vibrant in culture.
“The revitalisation of the former Eveleigh railway workshops area in recent years is a case in point – Carriageworks has become a new home for contemporary arts in Sydney.
“South of the Border hopes to share this identity to foster cultural understanding. Small group tours of authentic urban precincts, guided by a highly trained local, open the door to quintessential local life through powerful story and cross-cultural human interactions. Such a business will employ locals from disadvantaged groups, while funding sustainable projects to strengthen these communities.”
Nathan said the social business boot camp was the chance for him and Baptiste to test their ideas with experienced mentors. Six teams will be selected to make final presentations to a panel of social entrepreneurs and social venture investors including Professor Yunus.