Koori Mail: Supply Nations Connect 2012 Conference and show firms open for business

18 April 2012


By Kirstie Parker

ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander companies declared themselves well and truly ‘open for business’ at a high-level event in Sydney at the beginning of the month.

And, happily, big business came a calling – thanks to an invitation from AIMSC.

AIMSC aims to help Indigenous owned businesses integrate into the supply chain of private sector corporations and government agencies.

AIMSC’s Connect 2012 conference, business opportunity fair and trade show brought big corporates and government agencies – AIMSC members – together with about 90 Indigenous entrepreneurs – existing and aspiring AIMSC certified suppliers – at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel on 2-3 April.

During the conference, delegates soaked up sessions on building successful business relationships and driving key commercial outcomes, cultural awareness for members, and tips for certified suppliers on how to engage in and prosper within the corporate culture of large organisations, how to gain the edge in selling, and manage growth and risk.

Speakers included successful black American businesswoman Janice Bryant-Howroyd, AIMSC chairman Stephen Roberts, solicitor Terri Janke, consultant Shelley Reys, IBA CEO Chris Fry, Laura Berry and Kevin McCafferty from Qantas, and Stephanie Rice from the National Australia Bank.

The next day, about 90 Indigenous businesses delivering public relations, design, industrial cleaning, manufacturing, Indigenous food and culture and more showcased their wares at a trade show.

That night, they frocked up for a gala dinner and announcement of the 2012 AIMSC Indigenous Business Awards at Sydney Town Hall.

AIMSC’s own business received a boost at the trade show, when Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Minister Julie Collins announced up to $7.5 million over three years for its activities.

Ministerial praise

The Minister praised the work of the council, which is run by accomplished Aboriginal woman Natalie Walker and chaired by Citibank Australia CEO Stephen Roberts.

“This initiative is achieving excellent results and helping create a sustainable and prosperous Indigenous enterprise sector in Australia,” Ms Collins said.

The additional funding will assist the council to expand nationally, continue to build its member and supplier base, and develop its strategy to become an independent and sustainable organisation.

Since its establishment in September 2009, AIMSC has signed up more than 130 corporate and government members, including 12 Australian Government departments, and 124 Indigenous suppliers. AIMSC-certified Indigenous suppliers have employed more than 450 Indigenous full-time equivalent staff. And, as of 31 December 2011, AIMSC had generated $22.9 million in contracts and more than $13 million in transactions between its members and suppliers.

Ms Collins said that by supporting Indigenous businesses, companies and governments were creating real economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians and contributing to closing the gap.

Amongst the conference and trade show delegates were representatives from AIMSC’s affiliate council, the United States National Minority Diversity Council.