We establish a positivity property for a class of semilinear elliptic problems involving indefinite sublinear nonlinearities. Namely, we show that any nontrivial nonnegative solution is positive for a class of problems the strong maximum principle does not apply to. Our approach is based on a continuity argument combined with variational techniques, the sub and supersolutions method and some a priori bounds. Both Dirichlet and Neumann homogeneous boundary conditions are considered. As a byproduct, we deduce some existence and uniqueness results. Finally, as an application, we derive some positivity results for indefinite concave-convex type problems.