The First Nations business sector has more than doubled since 2006, according to a new report by Supply Nation. Indigenous business in Australia is growing exponentially, with a revenue growth of $2.6 billion from 2006 to 2018. Advocating for the needs and benefits of Indigenous business and Indigenous procurement, Supply Nation, the major organisation supplying accreditation for First Nations businesses on their database, in collaboration with Dr Zannie Langford of the Griffith Agribusiness team, has produced a detailed report of Indigenous businesses entitled, The geographies of Indigenous business in Australia: An analysis of scale, industry, and remoteness.

    The 51-page report combines data from Supply Nation, the Office of the Registrar for Indigenous Corporations and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to highlight the diversity of Indigenous businesses in Australia and has been delivered in alignment with Indigenous Business month (October) which promotes the variety and depth of Indigenous businesses nationally and provides an Indigenous voice to the national conversation.

    Dr Lanford’s report looks at the number of Indigenous businesses with a lens on where and how they operate and how this affects their social and economic outcomes. It also references the differences that exist between Supply Nation businesses, which are mostly commercially oriented, and Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) registered enterprises and not-for-profit.

    Such factors as geographical location, especially remoteness, are considered to gain a deeper understanding of the impact Indigenous business makes to the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous communities spread across the nation, the report shows.

    “The Indigenous business sector is far from being one homogeneous system, but one that is full of diversity – in terms of its activities, the social and financial goals of different enterprises (large and small), the types of Indigenous employment outcomes, the scale of operations and the locations in which the many businesses operate,” says Kate Russell, Chief Executive Officer Supply Nation.

    Types of Indigenous businesses in Australia

    The report estimates the scale of Australian Indigenous businesses to be at least 16,000, managing over $10 billion in annual revenue and employing workers in excess of 70,000, with Supply Nation and ORIC registered enterprises accounting for a large proportion of this activity.

    Supply Nation businesses have a larger presence in construction, facilities management, consulting, manufacturing and equipment hire, marketing and communications, events management, graphic design and photography, specialist services (such as legal services, laboratory services and library services), office supplies and printing, transportation logistics and storage, mining, travel and tourism. While ORIC businesses have a larger presence in land management and environmental services, health and community services, housing, arts and entertainment, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

    Data provided by Supply Nation shows that the Indigenous business sector has more than doubled since 2006 due to both the increase in Indigenous people operating businesses and more businesses identifying as Indigenous.

    Bolstered by legislation such as the Indigenous Procurement Policy, Indigenous individuals may register an incorporated enterprise (such as a corporation, trust, not-for-profit enterprise or incorporated joint venture), or as an unincorporated enterprise (such as a sole trader or partnership).

    These are not specifically Indigenous legal entities but may subsequently seek recognition as an Indigenous enterprise either through Supply Nation or by other means, states the report.


    This analysis reveals that smaller enterprises are more than twice as likely to employ Indigenous workers as larger businesses, concluded the report, and that remote and regional businesses are more than twice as likely to employ Indigenous workers as those located in major cities.

    Importantly, this report, one of the most detailed analyses of the post-COVID-19 Indigenous businesses sector available, reveals differences in revenue and Indigenous employment outcomes between businesses based on their size, industry and remoteness.

    “These findings can inform more targeted policy to support the Indigenous business sector to grow and more effectively provide benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Russell.

    For the full report visit the Supply Nation website.

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