A Yarn with Shawn Andrews: Entrepreneur, Educator and Passionate Advocate for Social Change


Shawn Andrews, co-founder of DHUWA Coffee. Courtesy of DHUWA Coffee, 2021.

Recently, we spotlighted DHUWA Coffee - the first Indigenous owned and managed coffee brand to be stocked in select Woolworths stores - and now, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing their co-founder, Shawn Andrews. The proud Mununjali and Palawa man is an incredibly talented and driven entrepreneur, educator and passionate advocate for social change. As a social advocate, Shawn was recently awarded the 2020 Professor Wanbil Lee Prize for Ethical Leaders in Business, which commends an MBA alumnus at the UNSW Australian Graduate School of Management who, through their own ethical business practice, inspires others to contribute to a progressive, ethical society. Shawn utilises his impressive academic record and business acumen to drive his purpose of giving back to his community and working to shift the negative narrative surrounding Indigenous Australians. So, without further ado, let’s introduce you to Shawn and how he is working to end Indigenous disadvantage:

Congratulations on DHUWA Coffee being the first Indigenous owned, managed and controlled coffee brand in select Woolworths stores! As Co-founder of DHUWA Coffee, we would love for you to tell us a bit about yourself.
“I’m a proud descendant of the Mununjali people of Southeast Queensland and the Palawa people of Tasmania. An entrepreneur and educator, I’m also a passionate social advocate driven by a purpose to give back and a shared vision to end Indigenous disadvantage.” 
What inspired you to begin a coffee business?
“We knew we wanted to create a modern Indigenous business that could generate funds that would go to areas in the community that we support, and coffee was something that was really close to our hearts. I have always believed a great cup of coffee connects us as we share stories, build bonds, and nourish relationships.We then faced the challenge of how to create a coffee business that would not only sustainably grow, but one that would achieve our ambitious objectives of getting into major retail, grocery stores and businesses.DHUWA Coffee was born out of this idea and is now the first Indigenous-owned coffee brand to be stocked in Woolworths, Australia’s biggest retailer.Indigenous-owned, managed, and controlled in partnership with Griffiths Bros. Coffee Roasters, DHUWA has paired the oldest culture in the world with Australia’s oldest coffee roaster.”

How is DHUWA Coffee providing “Reconciliation in a Cup?”

“As the first Indigenous-owned coffee brand available at a major supermarket, it’s an opportunity to provide broad access for people who not only enjoy a good cup of coffee, but who have an interest in supporting economic development of Indigenous Australia and a more equitable society for everyone. You can also have some of your best conversations over a cup of coffee. In our marketing, we celebrate this by bringing the language of country into the supermarket. Phrases such as ‘rise and yalnun’ and ‘the early mibunn catches the worm’ can be seen in store, encouraging people to start a conversation. We also have a Yugambeh dictionary on the website to further promote discussion. DHUWA is a reconciliation ecosystem in itself, from the coffee we create, the people we celebrate, and the opportunities we bring to other Indigenous people. Consumers can see that when you buy from an Indigenous-owned company, you are supporting Indigenous people and you are supporting reconciliation.”

DHUWA’s recyclable packaging through the RED Group REDcycle Program, Courtesy of DHUWA Coffee, 2021. 

What are the sustainability aspects of DHUWA?

“At DHUWA, our supply chain and green initiatives are future-focused on the environmental and economic health of the coffee industry. By minimising our environmental impact we maximise our social impact, creating economic sustainability for our coffee growers.To help close the loop, DHUWA bags are labelled in line with Planet Ark Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), providing customers with easy-to-understand recycling information.As well as this, our bags are recyclable through the REDcycle Program, allowing customers to take empty bags to REDcycle drop-off points, to help packaging be reused in new products including asphalt, signs and outdoor furniture.”

Are your coffee beans ethically sourced?

“We partner with some of the world's finest growers to craft our signature coffee blends. Our partners work directly with local co-ops to ensure supply chain transparency and our core values are maintained.  Australia's climate and the altitude that coffee can be grown at restricts diverse and large quantities being available. At DHUWA, we supply at scale. We have chosen to feature our neighbours Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, along with fresh beans from Brazil, Colombia, India and Ethiopia to ensure consistent and sustainable coffee supply all year round.”

What are your future goals for DHUWA?

“We have always been ambitious at DHUWA and have always had audacious goals. After completing our first goal of being stocked in a major retailer, we know we still have work to do. We would like to increase our retail store range, as well as roll out our corporate coffee provision that will help customers and businesses alike meet their social and sustainable purchasing goals. As we grow, we know that we need to continue to help deliver funds raised through the sale of DHUWA Coffee to our charity partner, Dreaming Futures.”

As founder of the majority Indigenous owned company Indigicate, what was the motivation behind teaming up with Uncle Michael Bell to create the non-profit Dreaming Futures?

“In the past, myself and Uncle Michael Bell had designed an on-Country experience for the young people in the community who were living in Out-of-Home Care. This program left me thinking about the young people in the Community who don't seem to have strong connections to Country, culture and family, or a network of relationships around them. They didn’t know what success in these looked like and it meant that aspects of their lives, like employment pathways, were limited. While Uncle Michael Bell is not involved in Dreaming Futures, that first program we designed showed me that I could do more and inspired the creation of the non-profit.”

What level of impact has DHUWA Coffee’s donations to Dreaming Futures had thus far?

“DHUWA donates five per cent of every product sold, and with our launch in Woolworths still being rolled out across the country, we are excited to see what we can raise as customers become familiar with, and ultimately purchase, our coffee. As we continue to grow as a business, our impact will grow as well, allowing us to achieve our future goals and those of our charity partner.”

Dreaming Futures’ ‘Future Dreamers’ 17 years + International camp program. Courtesy of Indigicate Facebook, 2019. 

How is Dreaming Futures helping Indigenous youth in Out-of-Home-Care connect to Country and Culture? For the wider community, please explain why strengthening the educational outcomes and employment pathways for Indigenous youth is so significant?

“Dreaming Futures supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Out-of-Home care to experience Country, culture and connection. Aiming to put a stop to the cycle of transgenerational trauma, Dreaming Futures’ planned pilot programs will be facilitated across Victorian Indigenous communities during 2021-22. There are plans to grow the program nationally in the future. Futures resourced by culture and community, relationships that connect and support education outcomes, help develop skills required to enter meaningful employment and normalise workforce participation.”

Indigicate school programs. Courtesy of Indigicate Facebook, 2016.

As an incredible and dedicated advocate for Indigenous youth, how is Indigicate working to implement reconciliation into education?

“Since it was founded in 2014, Indigicate has worked to implement reconciliation into education by approaching it from multiple angles. Always starting with truthful accounts of Australia's history to understand how we arrived at our current situation, Indigicate has helped thousands of students begin their journey to better understand Indigenous perspectives. It has worked to provide education around the challenges that all indigenous people face – navigating life in two worlds – the indigenous world and the western world. I am excited to see what the future holds for these programs as Indigicate moves through a restructure to ensure we can continue to deliver amazing programs into education and beyond.”

What types of educational programs do you run through Indigicate?

“Indigicate has run school camps, incursions, excursions and staff training; all of which were designed to help participants appreciate the strength and beauty of Indigenous connection, and to empower them to walk with us on the journey of reconciliation. School camp programs were designed using Indigenous pedagogy to allow participants to slow down and connect while on Country, and the camp programs were designed with shorter journeys, which allow more time for participants to connect with themselves, the community and the local Country. All of Indigicate’s educational programs were designed to increase participants' understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures.”

Indigicate facilitating its first cultural competency training for teachers at Cathedral College in Wangaratta. Courtesy of Indigicate Facebook, 2015.

Through Indigicate, you also provide cultural training for non-Indigenous organisations. Why do you think reconciliation is important in the workplace?

“I am extremely passionate about reconciliation in the workplace as it is a step towards ending Indigenous disadvantage. By understanding our shared history, addressing stereotypes and developing pathways of working together towards a common goal, we can break down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It’s part of the reason DHUWA Coffee works so well as an opportunity to have those conversations. Cultural training helps employees and employers develop an Indigenous lens which helps them evaluate the projects and engagement they want to run with communities. I often see businesses and government departments wanting to work with Indigenous communities but lacking the understanding of the cultural complexities that surround authentically engaging communities. Companies and corporations often find themselves working in a way that can be at odds with the needs of the Indigenous communities that they are working with. They can also find themselves wanting to achieve outcomes in a rigid time frame which can be unrealistic or disrespectful. Providing cultural training increases organisations’ ability to authentically engage with other Indigenous businesses and communities, an important step towards reconciliation and removing the gap of Indigenous disadvantage.”

For more information, check out DHUWA Coffee’s socials here: