Connect 2012 - A review

It is the only event of its kind in Australia, a celebration of Indigenous business and the support network that is growing up around it. And, as anticipated, AIMSC’s Connect 2012: Open for Business event was a resounding success. With over 215 conference day attendees, 255 attendees and 80 trade booths at the Business Opportunity Fair/Tradeshow and 475 guests at the Gala Dinner, Connect 2012 was well attended by corporate and government agencies in addition to Certified Indigenous Business Suppliers.

Executives from Australia’s top ASX companies and government agencies joined Indigenous business owners to exchange ideas and engage in powerful and mutually beneficial networking opportunities. In an exciting development, Message Stick Communications signed a contract with Qantas Airways at the Qantas Airways booth, reinforcing the ‘Open for Business’ theme with witnesses looking on.

Photos of the Conference and Business Opportunity Fair/Tradeshow can be found at AIMSC’s Facebook page -

At the Business Opportunity Fair/Tradeshow Lunch, Senator Collins delivered the aforementioned thrilling announcement that the government would be injecting up to a further $7.5 million in funding over the next three years.

As planned, Connect 2012 successfully delivered a program for Members and Suppliers to build partnerships, business opportunities, TRANS-ACT and learn more about better business practice. Members gained knowledge about practical Supplier diversity solutions, looked at ways to achieve broader buy-in across companies and assisted the Indigenous business sector to better understand procurement needs. Suppliers learnt to know who you want to do business with and to do your homework. Suppliers gained the opportunity to showcase products and services, win business and demonstrate the growing diversity of industries and products available.

Presentations from the Connect 2012 Conference Day can be downloaded at:

We were delighted to have Miriam Corowa, 24 Weekend presenter (ABC News) as the Conference MC for the day. Our powerful first session featured special guest Janice Bryant Howroyd, billionaire businesswoman and Chairman and CEO of Act 1 Talent and Technology USA imparting her considered wisdom to Indigenous business owners. Among other potent insights were:

  • "Ask the right questions then listen for the answers."
  • "We make a powerful statement when we do business with each other."

To read more about Ms Howroyd’s take on Connect 2012. The Australian: 02 April 2012 - African-American mogul hails indigenous opportunity. Please

Gala dinner and supplier diversity awards ceremony

Sydney Town Hall provided a stunning backdrop for the AIMSC Connect 2012 Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The tone for the evening was set by a didgeridoo player supplied by AIMSC certified Thullii Dreaming and as the doors opened, the Australian Girls’ Choir – singing from the balconies – welcomed guests into the main hall.

Our MC for the evening was AIMSC certified Michael Tuahine from Community Leadership Solutions. Aboriginal elders and traditional owners, Uncle Chicka Madden and Uncle Allan Madden, performed the Welcome to Country to Gadigal Land. Later on, AIMSC certified Supplier, the ‘Ian Tambo Band’ provided musical entertainment for guests to dance to.

With 20 CEOs of AIMSC Member companies in attendance, it was clear that support is strong and growing. Guests enjoyed a delicious menu prepared by Restaurant Associates with collaboration from Mark Olive of Black Olive Catering.

The AIMSC Awards presentation is Australia’s premier Indigenous Business Awards Ceremony recognising excellence in Supplier diversity and business practice. AIMSC proudly announced the winners of the Connect 2012 awards as follows:

  • Corporate Member of the Year: Qantas Airways
    Sponsored by Accor
  • Government Member of the Year: Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR)
    Sponsored by Qantas Airways
  • AIMSC Certified Supplier of the Year: Print Junction
    Sponsored by National Australia Bank
  • Up and Coming Member: National Rugby League (NRL)
    Sponsored by Corporate Express
  • Up and Coming Certified Supplier: Northern Haulage & Diesel Services
    Sponsored by National Australia Bank
  • AIMSC Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year: Shaun Hodgins, Compass Group Australia
    Sponsored by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA)
  • Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year: Corporate Culcha & Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
    Sponsored by Citibank
  • Special Recognition: KPMG
    Sponsored by Telstra

AIMSC received an overwhelming number of award nominations this year, all high quality entries, reaching key transaction targets and demonstrating Supplier diversity excellence. We’d like to congratulate again all the nominees and winners and encourage re-entry next year.

We would also like to thank the award judges and KPMG for auditing.

Photos of the Gala Dinner and Supplier Diversity Awards Ceremony can be found at AIMSC’s Facebook page -

Minister announces major boost in government funding

The biggest indicator of AIMSC’s arrival as a fully credible and infinitely viable organisation came in the form of a very exciting announcement by Senator the Hon Julie Collins, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development. Senator Collins announced that up to $7.5 million in government funding will 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,” Senator Collins said at the event.

AIMSC CEO Natalie Walker said that this funding proved that the government was confident in the future of the Indigenous enterprise sector and committed to Indigenous employment.

“Increased funding means increased opportunity and an increasingly vibrant Indigenous enterprise sector,” Ms Walker said. Over the past two years the success of AIMSC has more than quadrupled the financial growth for certified Indigenous business enterprises, with $44.6 million dollars of corporate and government business conducted in the past two and a half years.

To view the Ministers press please please visit:

To view the Ministers speech please visit:

Special guests

Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder and CEO, ACT-1 Group

We were honoured to welcome to Connect 2012 businesswoman Janice Bryant Howroyd, the second-wealthiest African-American woman behind Oprah Winfrey. Ms Howroyd is Founder and CEO of ACT-1 Group, the largest employment agency owned by a minority woman in the US. Addressing the conference, she argued that the barriers facing African Americans and Australian Aborigines are very similar but that opportunities here in Australia are potentially greater.

"I come back to Australia more excited, in many ways, about the opportunities for your Indigenous people than for economically disadvantaged people anywhere else, including in the US," she told The Australian.

Our own CEO Natalie Walker said Ms Howroyd's success in business and as a woman from a minority background represented "our future and everything that's possible when entrepreneurship in minority communities is actively supported".

Click here to read more about Ms Howroyd’s take on Connect 2012. The Australian: 02 April 2012 - African-American mogul hails Indigenous opportunity -

The Hon Julie Collins MP, Minister for Community Services, Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Minister for the Status of Women

We’ve already revealed the Minister’s announcement that the government will provide a further $7.5 million in funding to support AIMSC over the next three years. Senator Collins, in her address congratulated AIMSC for the myriad initiatives that have contributed to the growth and development of Indigenous business which, in turn have created more employment opportunities for Indigenous people throughout Australia.

Click here to read Senator Collins’ address.

Keep the feedback coming!

We have already received overwhelmingly positive feedback about Connect 2012. Our trade show booth exhibitors reported making contact with very interested potential customers and they enthusiastically told us that Connect 2012 represented an invaluable, not-to-be-missed opportunity to network and learn. Here are just a few comments:

  • “The energy here is fantastic … you should be here to feel it … validates everything we’ve been trying to do for the last two and a half years. AIMSC has done more than we ever believed they could possibly do … achieved an extraordinary outcome today.”
  • “There’s a big buzz in the room, there’s a lot of anticipation.”
  • An outstanding two days, culminating in an exceptional dinner! Brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed."
  • "I wanted to congratulate you on an spectacular and successful AIMSC Connect 2012. It was so very well organised and though out. I can also say we have not only formed some strong connections with members but also with our fellow suppliers.
    So now our task of following through with the potential business has commenced."
  • "It was a fabulous event and I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Please send your testimonial through to

We are very keen to hear from you regarding your experience at Connect 2012: Open for Business. Your feedback will provide valuable insight for us to consider when planning future events.

We’d like to invite you to spare a few minutes to complete our online survey:

Your participation in the survey is greatly appreciated. Please complete the Connect 2012 survey by 27 April 2012.

We’ve uploaded a number of videos featuring attendees outlining their experiences at Connect 2012. Click here to view the AIMSC YouTube channel -

Connect 2013 - Already working on next year’s event

Yes it’s true. Whilst the buzz is still in the air we’re already working on and planning towards AIMSC’s major conference, business opportunity fair/tradeshow and Gala Dinner for 2013. There’s no doubting it will be even bigger than this year because as word spreads of the successful outcomes derived, more and more will be keen to get on board.

Connect 2013 will be held in Melbourne, VIC on 14th-15th May 2013. We will also be having a spin off event in Perth WA - We will keep you posted on dates.

Sponsorship opportunities are now open. Please phone 02 8239 9900 or email to register your interest.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank all who attended and supported Connect 2012 and extend our gratitude to everyone who put in long hours and devoted their efforts towards its success. Thank you to Department of Business and Innovation (VIC), Department of Trade and Investment (NSW), Indigenous Business Australia and Northern Territory Government for your support of Indigenous businesses to attend Connect 2012.

We would also like to thank the Connect 2012 steering committee, Jasmin Herro of iSustainable, Terri Janke of Terri Janke and Company, Stephanie Rice of National Australia Bank (NAB), and Guy Roberts of Virgin Blue for their time and input to assist us in planning the event.

We look forward to seeing you next year!