Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurship has been around for a long time. We have covered in other articles the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. In this article, we will outline three easy steps to discover why you should find and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and maintain those relationships.
As part of the ever-growing social enterprise market, Indigenous business is one of the flagships in this space. First nations people have always been innovative and conducted trade long before European arrival. Since ‘settlement’, Aboriginal and Torres Strait People lost the tools to their trade and the trade itself in land stewardship.
Unable to practice business On Country and through various policies of assimilation set by the Federal and State Governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia were not included in the foundations of the new world and the new economy that sprouted rapidly around them.
In a lengthy process of Reconciliation, there have been notable events throughout the journey such as; Sorry Day, the Referendum and Mabo Day that have brought about significant change. The culmination of these historic events have contributed to the Federal Government to support the introduction of an Indigenous Procurement Policy and similar State equivalents as an attempt to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader Australian Community.
The IPP (Indigenous Procurement Policy) has had an immense impact, surpassing it’s initial target of a 3% spend leading up to 2020. The policy is a game-changer with cascading effects throughout government contracts all over the nation. Australian big business, large corporates, and government departments are now expected to have a presence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Marketplace.
Why Should I Work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses?
So why should there be an allocation of spend within this part of the marketplace? It’s a fair question, why should I look to diversify from current proven, who are potentially reliable and cost-effective suppliers?
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities are the most marginalised community in Australia. This marginalisation has occurred as a result of deliberate government policy to deliver that effect. The disadvantage has been cultivated by large sections of the community to ensure there would be no Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs or business sector. This crop of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander businesses represents the first generation to change that narrative. Part of the success of this group’s success is dependant on the sections of society that once worked against Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanderdetermination to now work with it and promote this burgeoning sector to the country and in indeed to the rest of the world.
Finding Indigenous Businesses
Finding an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander business is not as hard as you think. Finding the right Indigenous business is a challenge.
Just like any business relationship, finding the right supplier that aligns with your organisations values is often a journey of investigation. Add the fact that they must be Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander owned and controlled. This is where it can become a lengthy labor-intensive process if you don’t know where to look
Apart from searching for ‘Indigenous Plumbing Business’ online, there is a suite of resources available to find and engage with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business.
Kinaway Chamber of Commerce is the leading organisation in Victoria supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and entrepreneurs. Kinaway has a business directory, which identifies certified members. A certified member of Kinaway needs to be 51% or more owned and operated by an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander person, with the business based here in Victoria. The directory also lists “database only” businesses. These are businesses that have self – identified as Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander businesses, however, have not gone through the certification process.
Supply Nation, A nationally focused organisation with a database of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Businesses from all industries and locations. Well known for their annual Connect event, that brings Government, Corporates and Businesses to Sydney for a trade show, networking and education component, celebrated with an Awards Ceremony Gala Dinner.
NSWICC, The New South Wales Indigenous Chamber of Commerce is the central body for NSW based businesses and other Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Businesses working in the state. A chamber that also services corporate partners and members, NSWICC also has a footprint in current employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, monthly workshops for buyers and sellers and routine updates on NSW State Policy that impact First Nations People.
NCCI, Noongar Chamber of Commerce has a strong focus on providing support to Indigenous lead businesses operating in Western Australia. With strong connections to the Noongar economy, NCCI ambitions are centered around re-establishing the Noongar economy.
ABICSA, The Aboriginal Business Industry Chamber of South Australia is the peak organisation that aims to connect South Australian Indigenous Businesses with Government Procurement Departments.
Aboriginal Business Victoria is a state-led initiative to bring all Victorian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander businesses into one location. Making it easier for State Departments to satisfy their Victorian Indigenous Procurement Policy stated in the Tharamba Bugheen Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy.
Maintaining the Relationship
Some corporate partners have reservations when it comes to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses. Often concerned that organisation representatives or affiliates may say the wrong thing, cross a cultural boundary or step into Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander politics.
There are plenty of resources available to government and corporates seeking to invest in their cultural knowledge base and experience through organisations such as; Reconciliation Australia. RA outlays some of the frameworks that will be required in a reconciliation journey and provides practical training tools to equip your organisation. If based in Victoria, Kinaway can also assist in this journey, identifying members who specialise in cultural training.
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander business owners are Aboriginal people first and foremost; this means their life is centered around family, spirituality, and country. If organisations are able to connect with indigenous business representatives on this level they will go a long way to forming meaningful exchanges that have longevity.