Supply Nation: Helping Indigenous businesses help their communities

When most people think of Indigenous business, they think tourism or the arts. But since 2009, B2B company Supply Nation has been linking the supply chains of corporate Australia with certified Indigenous companies offering everything from security and telecommunications to stationery, furniture and high-visibility gear.

“Supply Nation links procurement managers to Indigenous businesses because supply chain diversity brings social and commercial benefits,” says Supply Nation chair Leah Armstrong. “We also work to change the perception that Indigenous businesses are just about culture, artefacts and tourism.”

IAG has been a foundation member since Supply Nation’s launch in 2009, enthusiastically supporting the organisation’s goals and several Supply Nation-certified companies.

“We were one of the first corporate to sign-on and have been helping Supply Nation grow and thrive ever since,” says IAG EGM for Corporate Services Graham Falzon.

“Over the past few years we have seen a significant increase in both the number of Indigenous business and the range of industries they work with. We are seeing the creation of a pool of talented Indigenous entrepreneurs, and supporting them to grow goes to our belief of building resilient Indigenous businesses and communities,” he says.

In 2014, when IAG wanted to create a series of videos to tells its 2013 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) story, it engaged Indigenous creative agency, Gilimbaa, a Supply Nation certified company.

Since thenasaa, IAG has been just as committed to using Indigenous companies such as Kallico Catering, Inside Policy and Arilla. The use of Supply Nation as a procurement tool has been actively promoted throughout the company as a way of continually increasing the number of Indigenous companies that we work with.

In 2016, Supply Nation ran a tradeshow – Connect 2016 – with the aim of linking Indigenous businesses with non-Indigenous companies across Australia. This allowed IAG to build business connections with Indigenous construction and property suppliers. These suppliers were invited to present an overview of their business and services to the IAG stakeholders who utilise these services.

Ms Armstrong said businesses must pass rigorous certification before Supply Nation will connect them to supply chains.

After the contract is signed, corporate Australia and government clients get to appreciate “the transfer of knowledge and the cultural piece that engagement brings”.

“From this transaction point, you then you see the social impacts that arise from the growth of Indigenous businesses: higher employment; more wealth in the community; greater pride; and families able to break the cycle of disadvantage.”

It is obvious why IAG’s long-term and ongoing relationship with Supply Nation is part of its future RAP goals to support the resilience of Indigenous business and community organisations.