Big firms backing indigenous business

Herb Smith, owner of Dreamtime Tuka. Source: supplied.

Some of Australia’s biggest companies have banded together to spend more than $3 billion in the next five years assisting indigenous businesses.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says the “Raising the Bar” initiative – a collaboration between its members and indigenous supplier diversity organisation Supply Nation – is “game changing”.

Businesses such as Dreamtime Tuka, which supplies Qantas, and Jilpanti Enterprises, which supplies Fortescue Metals Group, are already creating jobs and boosting their communities thanks to indigenous supply agreements.

“We’re already working to foster entrepreneurship, economic partnership and building lasting links with indigenous suppliers, and this is a chance to do even more,” Westacott said in a statement on Monday.

She said Business Council member companies were already some of the biggest employers of indigenous Australians at more than 20,000 people.

“Business has a pivotal role in ending the economic exclusion that deprives some communities of the opportunities that only economic growth can provide,” she said

“Every Australian should be able to realise their full potential.”

Supply Nation chief executive Laura Berry said the initiative would provide a strong framework and accountability to further build and grow indigenous businesses.

“Indigenous businesses face many of the same challenges as other businesses but many are on a much steeper growth curve,” Ms Berry said.

“Time invested working with indigenous suppliers will help the sector scale effectively and multiply the overall capability and capacity gain.”

The Raising the Bar initiative will be launched by federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt in Perth on Monday. 

Business Council members signed up to Raising the Bar:

  • Australian Unity
  • BAE Systems
  • BHP
  • BP Australia
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • EY
  • Fortescue Metals Group
  • KPMG
  • Lendlease
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Microsoft
  • Programmed
  • Qantas
  • Rio Tinto
  • Westpac
  • WSP

By Colin Brinsden, AAP

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