2 February 2012
Supply Nation is helping Indigenous businesses win corporate contracts.
Supply Nation connects Indigenous business suppliers with corporations and government agencies who want to buy goods and services.
Chief executive officer Natalie Walker says after two years of operation, AIMSC has exceeded all expectations by recruiting 130 corporate and government members and certifying 120 Indigenous businesses.
In the first 21 months of operation, AIMSC members awarded $22.631 million in contracts to certified Indigenous businesses.
“This shows that Indigenous businesses can supply to the big end of town and that the big end of town wants to do business with Indigenous people,” Walker says.
AIMSC was founded in 2009 by Aboriginal entrepreneur Michael McLeod and business partner Dugald Russell to help Indigenous businesses break into the corporate sector.
A former alcoholic and heroin addict, McLeod spent years trying to escape the rehab cycle before he realised financial independence was his way out.
“I wanted to prove that an Aboriginal person could own and manage a business and engage with the corporate sector without any handouts,” McLeod says.
He and Russell started their own telecommunications company, Message Stick, and within two years won their first corporate client.
Approaching government agencies and large corporate companies can be difficult without AIMSC’s assistance, Walker says. “We cut out all that drama. They still have to do all the work to win a contract but we get them that initial meeting and make sure it’s with the right person.”
With the help of AIMSC, McLeod’s business has been employed to provide teleconferencing services to the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
“The department is a AIMSC member and we were able to compete for the contract because we are a certified supplier,” McLeod says. “It’s not just a case of ‘Let’s give it to them because they’re Indigenous.’ It’s a corporate decision and the process is very competitive.”
Sharon Winsor’s business, Thullii Dreaming, is another AIMSC success story. She supplies beauty products to the Marriott Hotels chain.
“Without AIMSC, getting that contract would probably have taken me another five years,” she says. “The council has really made corporate Australia sit up and listen to what Indigenous businesses have to offer.
“They realise we can do business just as well as anybody else.”
Find out more
Economic Participation is one of the building blocks in the Closing the Gap strategy, agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
One of the Closing the Gap targets set by COAG in 2008 relates to economic participation:
- to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.
The Australian Government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018 aims to provide a framework to increase the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians by supporting greater economic participation and self-reliance.
AIMSC is a three-year pilot project funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.
AIMSC invites Indigenous business owners and government, corporate and not-for-profit buyers to meet and “do business” at its AIMSC Connect 2012 conference, tradeshow and gala dinner in April 2012.