Supply Nation

National Indigenous Australians Agency Trade Fairs

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To showcase the vibrant and growing Indigenous business sector, Supply Nation, in partnership with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), hosted a series of FREE Indigenous Business Trade Fairs across Australia.

These Trade Fairs were an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to showcase their products and services to government and corporate agencies. Indigenous businesses of all sizes came together to promote their capabilities to build networks, relationships and prospects in their local areas.

IMG_7182In the last year, Trade Fairs were held in Karratha, Dubbo, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin and Melbourne, representing over 600 opportunities for Indigenous businesses to exhibit across Australia.

The feedback from both Indigenous business and corporate and government agencies, has been outstanding.

One Indigenous business shared their experience from the Trade Fair in Adelaide: “Excellent Trade Fair, we were inundated with opportunities and enquires.”

One of our corporate members who attended the Trade Fair in Brisbane said: “It was wonderful and hope I can use the connections to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in my work area, increase cultural awareness, cultural safety, specific planning and procurement.”

We wrap up this series with a final Trade Fair in Canberra on Tuesday 11 February 2020 – and look forward to the next series beginning later in 2020.

Q&A with Supply Nation: Closing the economic gap for today’s emerging and evolving Indigenous Australians

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We sat down with Supply Nation president Laura Berry to discuss how the organisation has been working to close the economic gap for today’s emerging and evolving Indigenous Australians since its concpetion in 2009.

Q: What is Supply Nation?

Supply Nation is the Australian leader in supplier diversity. Since 2009, Supply Nation has worked
with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses along with procurement teams from
government and corporate Australia to help shape today’s emerging and rapidly evolving
Indigenous business sector.
Indigenous Australians face significant social, health, and demographic challenges that are totally
unacceptable in our society. Although Australia ranks 2nd in UNDP’s Human Development Index,
Indigenous Australians would rank 122nd. There are many organisations working to close that gap –
and Supply Nation does that using the lever of procurement.
The Indigenous peoples of Australia (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) make up around
3% of the population, but only own around 0.5% of the businesses in the country. In Australia,
supplier diversity is focused on achieving economic benefits for Indigenous people through business
Supply Nation’s vision is a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable Indigenous business sector and we
work towards that by supporting Indigenous businesses to get a seat at the table with the
procurement teams of our corporate, government and not-for-profit members.

Q: Who can join Supply Nation?
Supply Nation recognises two levels of Indigenous ownership of a business – Registered, which is
50% or more Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ownership (caters for equal partnerships with
non-Indigenous owners) and Certified Suppliers that are at least 51% owned, managed and
controlled by the Indigenous party.
Suppliers who register their business with Supply Nation receive a host of benefits, including listing
on Indigenous Business Direct (the largest national database of Indigenous businesses in Australia)
access to networking events, trade-fairs and training. All this is provided completely free (apart
from tickets to Connect – Supply Nation’s annual Knowledge Forum, Tradeshow and Gala Awards
Supply Nation also supports a network of paid corporate, government and not-for-profit members
who receive training and consulting to develop a sustainable supplier diversity program within their
procurement departments.

Q: What is the scale and impact of supplier diversity in Australia?
Supply Nation now has over 1700 Indigenous businesses and over 400 members. Research
gathered from Supply Nation’s social investment of return report “The Sleeping Giant” shows that
for every dollar of revenue Indigenous businesses produce on average $4.41 of social return. In
addition, Indigenous businesses are up to 60 times more likely to employ Indigenous people and
Indigenous business leaders provide role models and leadership for other members of the
community. The number of Indigenous businesses growing at almost 23% per annum (more than
four times non-Indigenous businesses).
Since 2014, Business Council of Australia members have reported over $2 billion in spend with
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and since its introduction in July 2015, the
Indigenous Procurement policy has awarded 6,850 contracts worth approximately $1 billion to
more than 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
Supply Nation has grown from 13 suppliers registered in 2009, with a founding membership of 32
corporate and government organisations – to today having over 1700 Indigenous businesses and a
membership of over 400 engaged organisations who support our vision for the sector.
Our members operate in diverse industries such as mining, construction, finance, IT and
telecommunications, pharmaceutical and retail. There are innovative and successful Indigenous
businesses in every sector and state – providing services from consultants to contractors; from
construction to cleaning and from cryogenics to climbing gear!

Q: How is Australia’s Indigenous business sector evolving and growing at the moment –
what changes are you seeing?
Supply Nation is about to enter our 10th year of operation – and in that time the Indigenous
business sector has grown and matured exponentially. Many organisations now include supplier
diversity in their Reconciliation Action Plan commitments, and the introduction of federal and state
government procurement policies with hard targets has really moved the dial in terms of
behavioural change.
Looking forward we expect the exponential growth to continue and accelerate as state and local
government implement mandatory procurement targets and as more corporate organisations
realise the benefits of supplier diversity – not only to their own business through increased
innovation and value; and decreased risk, but also to the Australian community and economy
through financial and economic empowerment of our First Peoples.

Join Laura and Supply Nation at Australia’s largest supplier diversity event in the Indigenous business sector in May 2019 for thier annual conference, Connect 2019.

For more information about Supply Nation and their impact, please read thir latest report Indigenous Business Growth

Supplier diversity leaders attend Supply Nation’s Connect in Australia

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Supply Nation’s annual flagship event, Connect, is the largest supplier diversity event in Australia.

The three events over two days are considered a must-attend by the Australian supplier diversity community. The Knowledge Forum on the first day is designed to bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners with buyers from government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations to share stories and learnings; hear about global and Australian best practice; and to provide practical strategies that can be implemented post-event. Day two sees Supply Nation host the largest Indigenous Business Tradeshow in Australia – with over 165 businesses showcasing their products and services at this year’s event. The Tradeshow is followed by the Gala Awards Dinner – this year sold out with 860 guests attending to celebrate the announcement of the 2018 Supplier Diversity Awards.

This year, over 2,300 people joined the two-day event held on 22 and 23 May with the common aim of building a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable Indigenous business sector.

Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, welcomed guests to the first day of Connect, at the Knowledge Forum and in doing so launched Supply Nation’s new brandmark and livery with reference to this year’s Connect theme: ‘shaping an inclusive economy’.

“The new brandmark tells the story of our members, partners and Indigenous businesses coming together to shape a more inclusive economy, where all Australians have an equal opportunity to grow a business, support their families and achieve their dreams.” Ms Berry said.

Ms Berry continued “An inclusive economy is a strong economy and each and every one of you here today has a role to play in shaping that Australia.”

The keynote addresses were delivered by the Chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Clifford A. Bailey who encouraged delegates to embrace inclusion not only within their organisation but at every opportunity and Jamila Gordon, who captivated the audience with her personal story of traversing Australia’s business sector as a refugee: from washing dishes to becoming the Group CIO of Qantas, and now running her own start-up supporting other businesses.


The Global Supplier Diversity Story

Global Supplier Diversity Story - session_preview

A highlight of the program for many attendees was the ‘Global Supplier Diversity Story’ session where delegates heard from thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe including Cassandra Dorrington, President of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Fernando Hernandez, Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Director of Microsoft Corporation and Mayank Shah, Founder and CEO of Minority Supplier Development UK Ltd.

The panel shared their experience and insights into inclusive procurement: how to empower decision makers within an organisation to prioritise supplier diversity and the strategies and tactics that have worked to drive change and social inclusion for minority owned businesses in the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK and how these may apply in the Australian context.

Federal Government support

The Federal Government’s support for supplier diversity and Supply Nation was clearly displayed at Connect 2018. At the Indigenous Business Tradeshow, the Federal Government sponsored and staffed the “Australian Government Link” where five departments and agencies were available for Indigenous businesses to discuss how to better engage with and navigate through government procurement processes.

Senator the Honourable Nigel Scullion, Senator for the Northern Territory and Minister for Indigenous Affairs attended, and spent time visiting the exhibitor booths and talking to business owners. He also addressed the Tradeshow and reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to growing the Indigenous business sector.

At the Gala Awards Dinner, the 860 guest were thrilled by a live cross from Canberra where the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Supply Nation, the awards finalists and winners, and the whole sector for the achievements of the past few years. He mentioned the recent government announcement that since the launch of the Indigenous Procurement Policy in July 2015, over AUD$1 billion has been spent with Indigenous businesses.


2018 Supplier Diversity Awards

Laura Berry, CEO Supply Nation, opening the Gala Awards Dinner_previewOn the final night of Connect, the prestigious Supplier Diversity Awards were announced. This year over 860 guests attended the event and celebrated as the winners were revealed. From the most successful organisations to the individuals who are creating change through their own advocacy or business acumen, the Supplier Diversity Awards are the highest recognition of achievement in Australian supplier diversity.

Ten awards were presented, including Corporate Member of the Year, Government Member of the Year, Certified Supplier of the Year, Registered Supplier of the Year, Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year, Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year, Procurement Professional of the Year, Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year, Young Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year and the most prestigious Outstanding Impact of the Year award. Finalists and winners are available here.

Connect has once again brought together the entire supplier diversity community from Australia and the globe, with record numbers attending Next year is Supply Nation’s 10th birthday and Connect 2019 will be a real celebration.

For further information about Supply Nation’s annual Connect conference, visit



Indigenous Procurement Policy to drive corporate innovation

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The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) launched in July, is beginning to warm up. Government buyers are figuring out how they will implement the policy and are building plans to ensure they meet their targets. However, outside of government, in the private sector, the policy is still relatively poorly understood—which may become an issue for the government if it is to meet its targets.

The IPP has been designed to drive public and private sector purchasing from Indigenous businesses, in order to grow those businesses and, in turn, grow Indigenous employment. Despite this, there are few in the private sector that know about the policy and even fewer that realise it may affect their company directly.

‘For private sector buyers, the understanding of the IPP is that it is for government and government alone,’ said Peter Critchley, Supply Chain Analyst at Transfield Services. ‘There is little appreciation that it might affect their contracts with government.’

Any organisation that contracts directly to government or contracts with companies that are highly exposed to contracts with the Federal Government, are affected by the IPP. There are few, if any, B2B companies not in this bucket.

As covered in last quarter’s Supplier Diversity How, the IPP is broken into three main categories.

  1. Target: by 2020 3 per cent of government contracts will be awarded to Indigenous businesses
  2. Mandatory set asides: For any contract between $80 000 and $200 000 or any contract awarded in a remote area, if there is an Indigenous business that can fulfil that contract and still provide value for money, the contract must be awarded to that business.
  3. Minimum requirements: For any new contract in certain industries at or above $7.5M, the winner of the contract must demonstrate either deliver 4% employment and/or a mix of 4% procurement. Alternatively they can choose to spread the target across their whole business, not just the individual contract, in which case the requirement drops to 3%.

Part three of the policy, is explicitly designed to drive Indigenous procurement down the supply chain and into the private sector. Any organisation hoping to win large contracts in building, construction, maintenance, transportation, storage, education, training, industrial cleaning, travel and many more will have to meet ambitious procurement and/or employment targets that are above the current Australian average.

All tenderers for applicable contracts of $7.5M or more already have to respond to the requirements of this element of the policy, however the regulations won’t be enforced until next year. If the policy applied to a tender your organisation was competing on, you would have to submit a detailed Indigenous Participation Plan that outlines how your organisation will meet the targets. An organisation’s compliance to the Indigenous Participation Plan will be monitored by the government contract manger.

Jason Eades, CEO of PwC Indigenous Consulting, has seen evidence that departments are looking to get wins under their belt before reporting on this starts in earnest next year.

‘In terms of the minimum requirements element of the IPP, despite this being a transition year, we are seeing initial signs that government departments are moving early,’ said Mr Eades, ‘They are very focused on building their programs to meet this element of the policy – they want to demonstrate that they can and that they can get there early.’

In other words, companies looking to win large government contracts should be ready for the IPP to affect their business—and should not be surprised if it comes in to play this year. Companies that aren’t ready may be at risk of losing large government contracts or damaging their relationships with government buyers.

Second Tier Reporting

Another way government portfolios will meet their targets is by reporting on second tier spend with Indigenous businesses. If a department under a portfolio, such as the Department of Human Services (DHS), has a large nationwide contract with a large office stationary provider, such as Staples or OfficeMax, and it purchases paper from an Indigenous business through that tier one supplier, DHS can report on that second tier spend with that Indigenous business.

For large departments, such as the Department of Defence or the Attorney General’s Department, second tiering will have to be core to their strategy to achieve their targets. Defence signs an average of 14 005 contracts each year, which means they will have to sign 420 contracts with Indigenous businesses by 2020. These targets will dramatically increase Defence’s spend with small and medium business, let alone with Indigenous business and will require a strong second tier strategy in order to meet the targets.

Defence and other departments tier one contractors will likely soon be called upon to start reporting their spend with Indigenous business. New contracts signed will start to have stipulations on engagement with Indigenous business in tier one supply chains. Tier one suppliers will have to meet those Indigenous business engagement stipulations and reporting guidelines, otherwise they will be at risk of not winning those government contracts.

Lessons Learned in the West

On face value, it may seem like the IPP places a heavy burden on the private sector and may impact the profitability of contracting to government. However, over the last twenty years in West Australia the mining industry has cultivated a culture of Indigenous business engagement down the supply chain. According to Mr Eades, the government and the private sector can look to this experience for guidance and advice on reaching the targets.

‘The mining giants have been here before. They know how to issue contracts that drive engagement with Indigenous business deep down their supply chains. They know how to establish a reporting system that captures the impact of their procurement spend.’ Said Mr Eades.

The more recent West Australian experience, of slowing investment in new projects and a decrease in new investment, also contains valuable lessons.

‘The mining boom drove a huge growth in small Aboriginal businesses and as that industry has moved out of the growth phase, there are a whole lot of Indigenous businesses going to the wall.’ Said Mr Eades, ‘If this policy is mismanaged or is suddenly changed, it has the potential to do the same type of damage, but on a larger scale. We have to ensure the private sector, government and Indigenous businesses are collaborating to build a framework that grows sustainable Indigenous businesses.’

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