Black Biz: Celebrating the entrepreneurship of Indigenous business

by Sarah Martin

The recent AIMSC Connect 2012 saw executives from Australia’s top companies and government agencies mix with Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners with the culmination of the two day conference and trade show celebrated with an awards night to honour the best of the year.

Despite the bleak global situation, the Indigenous enterprise sector has proved to be both sustainable and vibrant, creating opportunities and employment for all Australians in a range of areas including mining, catering, graphic design, telecommunications, legal services, printing and tourism.

Since its inception in September 2009, AIMSC's aim has been to help Indigenous-owned businesses integrate into the supply chain of private sector corporations and government agencies.

At the end of 2011, AIMSC had certified 124 Indigenous suppliers who have employed around 452 Indigenous full-time equivalent staff and more than quadrupled their financial growth by winning $44.6 million dollars’ worth of corporate and government business. This is despite the fact that Indigenous Australians are only one-third as likely to own their own business as non-Indigenous Australians.

At the awards night at Sydney Town Hall, AIMSC Certified Indigenous Supplier of the Year was presented to Print Junction which has been owned and managed by the Torzyn family for 15 years.

Print Junction Office and Creative Manager, Leah Torzyn, said they’d been in business for 15 years, and had been plodding along nicely with mainly local clients. “But since being involved with AIMSC we’ve worked with design studios and graphic artists from all over Australia delivering to corporate clients in every capital city with our business increasing by around 15%, ” Leah said. “Having said that we are an Indigenous business and we are good at what we do. We have won industry awards for our print quality.”

Qantas Airways, who were a founding member of AIMSC and the first to sign an agreement with an AIMSC certified Supplier were awarded Corporate Member of the year. Qantas has now contracted eight certified Indigenous businesses, with plans for a minimum of 10 contracts in place by the end of next year.

Olivia Wirth, Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs said Qantas would continue to seek opportunities to work with Indigenous suppliers.
“Through our partnership with AIMSC, Qantas is able to connect with Indigenous businesses across a range of areas. There is a strong business case for Qantas to actively engage in supplier diversity. By expanding our footprint, we can find suppliers to provide better value, innovation, speed and local content to our supply chain. “

To top off the celebrations, a further $7.5m funding was announced by the Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Julie Collins to be provided to AIMSC to continue for a further three years.

“This initiative is achieving excellent results and helping create a sustainable and prosperous Indigenous enterprise sector in Australia,” Ms Collins told the AIMSC’s Trade Expo in Sydney.

“This renewed commitment of $7.5 million is part of the Australian Government’s $650 million Indigenous Employment Program.
“Through the IEP and the Council we will use the already considerable goodwill and momentum to link corporate and government clients with Indigenous business.”