In 2016, Supply Nation commissioned Inside Business to undertake qualitative research to identify strategies that corporate and government buyers can employ to make it easier for Indigenous business to do business with them. The research involved interviewing 17 Supply Nation Certified / registered Indigenous businesses seeking their experiences dealing with corporate and government buyers and an analysis of previous research undertaken by Supply Nation of ‘buyer’s views and experiences’. The interviews were completed with Indigenous business owners or staff and the businesses were diversified by industry and location, representative of all states and territories except Tasmania.
The findings of the research suggest that the answer to the question, “what can corporates & government buyers do to make it easier for Indigenous business to do business with them” is to understand that doing Indigenous procurement well requires more than just business.
“More than business” requires both buyers and suppliers to meet on commercial terms, for robust yet inclusive procurement systems to be put in place as well as solid relationships to be formed based on mutual respect and understanding.
A critical ingredient for a solid relationship is one of trust. To form this trust, buyers must let go of negative stereotypes and unrealistic expectations of Indigenous business. Similarly, Indigenous suppliers must engage in the procurement process with a willingness to learn and on the basis of good faith.
Specifically, where Indigenous suppliers reported positive procurement experiences this seemed to result in a virtuous cycle where suppliers grow and buyers get more value. Conversely, where suppliers reported negative experiences this seemed to result in a vicious cycle where suppliers stagnate, being restricted from moving into or up the value chain and procurement activity is limited.
Buyers can help Indigenous suppliers do business with them by:
- Having a clear business case
- Having a coherent system to support their commitment
- Offering contract terms that enable growth
- Networking and building relationships