Case Study: BP Australia and Indigiearth
The Certified Supplier: Indigiearth
The inspiration for Indigiearth came about 10 years ago when owner and founder Sharon Winsor set about showcasing her Indigenous culture and heritage. The proud Ngemba woman was also anxious to provide a solid income for her family. Indigiearth was certified by Supply Nation in November 2011. The business currently has five employees, and the brand comprises a range of skincare, food and beverage products that use all-natural and organic ingredients.
Sharon sources all of her ingredients from Aboriginal communities across Australia, to ensure employment skills and income is kept within the communities. Some of the most popular items in the Indigiearth range include corporate hampers containing bush tucker and Indigenous skin care, plus native herbs, spices, jams, teas, and affordable hotel amenities. Sharon is constantly looking at ways to expand her brand, and now that she is working alongside some of Australia’s biggest organisations, Indigiearth is well-positioned for further growth.
The Member: BP Australia
BP is one the world’s largest energy companies. It commenced operations in Australia in 1920, when the company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas (upstream) and refining and marketing of petroleum products (downstream). They have maintained a strong involvement with Indigenous communities and Indigenous issues for over a decade.
BP employs a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to formalise and ensure continuation of commitment to Indigenous programs. “BP hopes the plan will lead to mutual advantage for them and the communities in which they operate,” said Peta Collins, Manager of the BP RAP Program.
A challenge was put forward within the BP business to identify some opportunities that can add value to Indigenous communities in the markets they operate and further through engagement of the wider Indigenous community. Dean Hadden, Regional Merchandise Manager for BP, presented the idea to engage an Indigenous business with the capability to supply unique products to BP stores across Australia.
Dean tapped into the Supply Nation network by using the Members database to search for Certified Suppliers. Indigiearth quickly caught his eye thanks to their broad range of products and creative branding. “I was keen to have a chat with Sharon and explore her potential to develop a retail offer, so I gave her a call. She demonstrated the capacity for retail supply at a wholesale level and that is what we were seeking,” he explained. Dean then travelled to Mudgee, where he met with Sharon at a local coffee shop and they discussed the opportunities for retailing Indigiearth products in BP regional stores.
The opportunities and outcomes
Dean and Sharon formulated a thorough plan for how they would work together. “The scale of what he was after was huge to us - as we’re only small - but Dean guided us through the process and was very supportive," said Sharon. "He gave me a better understanding of how large-scale supply chains work and was always on-hand if we had a question." In mid 2013 Indigiearth products were launched in select BP stores across regional Australia.
The BP range is comprised of two sizes of bottled south-spring water, native bikkies in six different flavours, choc-coated macadamias, jams, sauces and chutney – all sold in 120 gram jars, ideal for travellers or as gifts. Indigiearth will also supply six flavours of native tea blends, and a four-piece toiletries set, which will contain the signature Indigiearth organic skincare products. BP designed the stands to house the products, and the re-packaging process was carried out by Sharon. “It took a few months to achieve a whole new look and feel, but we’re really pleased with the outcome. At first it was quite daunting, and we needed to upscale for such a large order. We had to employ contractors for the biscuit manufacture, but we got there,” she laughed.
As Indigiearth is based in Mudgee in central-west NSW, it was necessary to create a route to market for the Indigearth range. Dean established a direct link with an existing supplier to carry out distribution nationally. “I wanted to help Sharon break through any of the barriers she may have faced in those early stages, and create scope for wider business to happen," he said. In return, Sharon was very flexible, particularly with the rebrand. "That was a big task, even down to the carton re-configurations” said Dean. Sharon is also pleased that the partnership has opened up doors within her community. “Aboriginal growers provide their produce for me to create the products, so it’s helping the wider Aboriginal community – it really goes a long way,” she explained.
Equally, Peta from BP is pleased to have seen the partnership grow into one that has really benefitted both BP and Indigiearth. “The changes you see - and sitting down with Sharon to learn about her background - has been heart warming. You can see the impacts immediately and it really gives credibility to what we’re doing,” Peta said. When she’s not working on her own enterprise, Sharon dedicates time to helping local Indigenous children in Mudgee with learning programs. This transfers to her work with BP, as 50 cents from the purchase of each Indigiearth for BP product goes toward the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF); an endeavour that BP is proud to support.
How Supply Nation was able to help
The Supply Nation database provided the initial point of contact for Dean and Sharon. When Dean was searching for a Certified Supplier, he was particularly impressed with the range and capabilities of Indigiearth. The detailed company description on the Supply Nation database and the Indigiearth website were factors that led Dean to contact Sharon and establish terms of supply almost immediately. BP has found the database to be a useful way to find Certified Indigenous Suppliers in the one place. Sharon is pleased with the opportunities that have resulted since she became a Certified Supplier in 2011. “It’s hard work, but opportunities do open up and I can then think about business on a broader level,” she said.