The Australian: Taste of success for indigenous suppliers

The Australian - A NEW program to get more indigenous businesses certified is exceeding targets, providing a glimmer of hope that the gap between black and white Australia can be closed.

24 April 2012

By: Patricia Karvela

AIMSC -- a not-for-profit body that certifies indigenous suppliers for companies and government agencies looking to buy goods and services from indigenous businesses -- has done better than envisaged.

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Gillard government found that, while there were some areas for improvement, "in many cases AIMSC has not only achieved -- it has exceeded -- initial expectations of growth within the pilot".

The government will double the funding to AIMSC in next month's budget.

Mark Olive has been running one of the certified indigenous businesses, Black Olive Catering, for the past five years.

He joined AIMSC to grow his business. He said AIMSC had marketed his business to corporate Australia and government agencies. His clients include ANZ Bank, AFL House and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

"Indigenous businesses have a unique offering -- but the unique offering must be matched with highly competitive business practices," Mr Olive said.

"Successful indigenous business are the future -- beyond closing the gap."

His team designed their menu to create flavours based on the meats, herbs and fruits indigenous to Australia -- crocodile, emu, kangaroo, lemon myrtle, bush tomato and wattleseed.

All native produce is sourced through projects that promote the Australian Native Food Industry, by developing a network among Aboriginal communities. The report also found AIMSC had exceeded many of the performance indicators before the end of its second year. Interest in and demand for AIMSC services have increased, the report says.

AIMSC has more than 130 corporate and government members, including 12 government departments. It has generated more than $22.9 million in contracts and more than $13m in transactions between members and certified indigenous suppliers.

The suppliers employ more than 450 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report recommends implementing strategies "that target growth in the supplier base by industry, size and location".