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Indigenous business sector a significant, growing contributor to the economy

Following on from last week’s celebration of NAIDOC WEEK 2021, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson is encouraging Australians to support the Indigenous business sector.

The call comes in the wake findings from the University of Melbourne which revealed that indigenous businesses’ contribution to the economy has more than doubled, making it one of the fastest-growing secors in Australia.

“This new research shows how critical the Indigenous business sector is to the national economy,” Billson said. “In the 12 years to 2018, the sector saw a 115 per cent lift in gross income to $4.88 billion and that is expected to continue to grow. The same period saw a 74 per cent increase in the number of businesses operating in the Indigenous business sector with more than 45,000 jobs created.

“Interestingly, the Indigenous business sector is made up of mostly small businesses with an average of 14 employees and average gross income of $1.6 million,” Billson added. “That’s well above the non-Indigenous business average of $400,000 in gross income and two staff members.”

The Ombudsman stressed that every dollar spent with an Indigenous business goes a long way.

“According to Supply Nation, for every $1 of revenue, certified Indigenous suppliers generate $4.41 of social return,” Billson noted. “In fact, indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to employ other indigenous staff according to Supply Nation, which is why procuring from indigenous businesses is an investment in both indigenous employment and economic development more broadly.

“While indigenous businesses provide services across a range of industries, there are a number that have been hit hard by the pandemic, such as those businesses relying on the tourist trade. It’s especially important that we support these businesses as much as possible as they work to recover from this challenging period,” Billson concluded.

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