However, the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic puts those gains at risk. Indigenous businesses, like everyone in the business world, are being hit hard by the shutdowns. It is more important now than ever to keep building on those gains, and not to let Indigenous businesses be left behind.
“The government through its IPP procurement has helped grow the Indigenous business sector,” IPS Managing Director Kristal Kinsela-Christie said.
“It would be a terrible thing to then let the virus wipe it out. We need cash in our businesses, we need to continue to win work. Government needs to keep buying from Indigenous businesses, keep procurement running, keep the doors open to business.”
Kristal urged government, and anyone else with the resources, to keep buying.
“Focus on the mandatory set-aside, and sole-source directly from Indigenous businesses where possible,” she said.
“This will support our sector, so that we can continue to support our communities.”
Comprehensive overview of stimulus packages
AusIndustry WA Stakeholders Update
SA Government Response Package
Economic Stimulus in the NT
Covid-19 Economic Relief Package
NSW Economic Stimulus
Hotline Help For Businesses Dealing With COVID-19 Impacts
COVID-19 Economic Survival Package
Tasmanian support and stimulus program
But what does this kind of support and protection look like?
The current approach has difficulty producing locally appropriate outcomes as it is inflexible (incapable of adaptation to local contexts), fragmented (producing piecemeal outcomes instead of whole-of-systems solutions) and centralised and/or ‘top-down’ (the design and implementation process prioritises external decision-making structures that do not genuinely participate with people on the ground and outsource services to subcontractors) (Peter and Ayora, 2011, p. 6; Hunt, 2013).
Indigenous people walk in two worlds. Our cultural identity is vital to us, and education and training need to be provided so that it is not lost. At the same time, we need to ensure we are aware of the transversal world around us, so we can navigate through and claim both spaces for our self-realisation and liberation. Closing the gap is failing because the government are continually trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We do not all learn, speak or engage the same way.
Indigenous businesses are vital to addressing disadvantage and to building economic capacity – and they are the key providing much needed support.
Co-design and community controlled, community-led responsibility is the key tool for communities to navigate their own solutions, in their own context. True self determination comes from the ability to empower our cultural leaders and organisations to make decisions for our people. We are the experts in our own culture and practices, and therefore should be engaged, from the top, on what would work best for our people. To put it simply, the best way to support Indigenous communities is to empower us to help ourselves. Tap into the skills and expertise of the Indigenous business community. We are there and we are ready.
Closing the gap is failing because we have people making decisions on our behalf. The key to successful engagement and implementation is to move from consultation and information to inclusion and influence. The government need to respect and acknowledge Indigenous methodologies and paradigms.
Let’s be innovative in our education practices. Let’s embrace our first nations’ history and learn from the continual existence of the world’s longest living culture – and provide the support to keep Aboriginal communities healthy, because healthy people run healthy businesses, which support healthy families and communities.
IPS can help in this space, as we understand the need to provide an ecosystem of networking opportunities for Aboriginal businesses, linking capabilities to real opportunities across all sectors. Employment brings opportunities not just for an individual, but the ability to leave a legacy for a family and community.
We believe that taking the right actions and investment now will enable progress toward appropriate long term sustainable impacts to Aboriginal people, families and their communities. However, it will require a focused and planned strategy working through genuine democratic collaborative design (co-design) and self-determination lenses which provide authentic (community endorsed) capability and organisational development for all parties.
Our sector – the Indigenous business sector – will face its own unique set of challenges. Indigenous businesses are in varying stages of maturity, from start up to growth. Some have never had to deal with an economic downturn like we are experiencing today. We’ve been fortunate to have focus and an increased demand for our products and services through Indigenous Procurement Policies - but the many who service governments will now be faced with the challenge of Government departments who are, rightly so, rolling out remote working arrangements and cancelling face to face events.
Through our experience in providing business advisory services, we know these businesses are susceptible and vulnerable right now.
Our message to our loyal clients this week has been clear. As an Indigenous small business, we need you now more than ever.
Our doors are open, and we need you to keep doing business with us.
We recognise the challenges. But we have a plan to continue to deliver services and projects for our clients, using a mixture of technology, innovation and good-old fashioned hard work and flexibility. Like many small businesses, we’re working very hard with our clients and markets to continue to provide services.
IPS is a proud advocate of Indigenous and small business. At this time, we urge those who have the opportunity to support small business to do so through their leadership. Government departments and big corporates – those that procure services from small business – need to keep doing so. Don’t shut your door on your suppliers.
And to our communities, please continue to support our small businesses, for all our sakes.
The key message here is ‘Keep the door open to business’. We need you to continue to release opportunities, to award contracts and let us deliver!
The Department of Finance flipped the concept of the Business Expo on its head at the Aboriginal Business Expo 2020 – with great results.
The Expo, held at the Perth Exhibition Centre, had about 300 attendees and 40 stalls. It was Government Departments on display rather than Indigenous Businesses, which allowed Indigenous business people to interview and talk with key Government Department personnel and procurement heads.
IPS Management Consultants Commercial and Finance Director Katina Law and Business Development Manager Doug Green attended the expo.
“The Department of Finance did a great job of putting on this expo,” Doug said.
"Congratulations on helping open up the doors to opportunity."