Newslines Radio: Business opportunities
- Nathan Ramsay
- Kyle Slabb, Yaru Water, NSW
Gillian Trenerry, Fibre Optics NQ, QLD
Karen Milward, Karen Milward Consulting, VIC
Natalie Walker, CEO AIMSC
Peter Cooley, Koori Communications and Training, NSW
Jasmin Herro, Australian Outback Apparel, QLD
PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Nathan Ramsay and you’re listening to Newslines Radio, a weekly program produced by the Australian Government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
The Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council or AIMSC is helping Indigenous owned businesses win corporate contracts.
AIMSC connects Indigenous businesses with corporations and government agencies who want to buy goods and services.
After just two years of operation, AIMSC has exceeded all expectations by recruiting 130 corporate and government members and certifying 120 Indigenous businesses.
There are many different types of businesses that are partnered with AIMSC and in this program we will take a look at a couple of them.
At a business opportunity/trade show held earlier this year in Sydney Newslines’ Trevor Ellis spoke to AIMSC’s CEO Natalie Walker.
WALKER: What today is really about is showing the world and the largest companies and government agencies in Australia that Indigenous business can do business with you. And we have got over eighty Indigenous businesses showing off their goods and services and a lot of them are very successful and to give you an example we have got Yaru Water from the Tweed River and they are a family owned company and they have just signed two contracts, one with Marriot Hotels and one with Sofitel to stock their rooms with Yaru Water.
Today is also really about showing the world that Indigenous business can really do anything. We have got telecommunications, HR and recruitment, we have got consulting, building construction, mining, so a broad range of businesses.
ELLIS: And what do you hope something like this will achieve?
WALKER: So what we really want ultimately is the door of opportunity that much wider for Indigenous business to do business with the large companies and government agencies. So we have about two hundred buyers from our government and corporate members coming through today to talk to the Indigenous businesses who are showing off their goods and services to talk about whether there is any opportunities for them to supply.
PRESENTER: And the first business we will look at is the one that Natalie just talked about, spring water supplier Yaru Water.
Kyle Slabb, a Bundjalung man from Fingal in Queensland is the Business Development Manager for Yaru and he also spoke with Trevor Ellis.
SLABB: Yaru Water, it’s a family business and in a partnership with another family we’ve had a relationship with for over 100 years. We went into the spring water business in these last couple of years and sourced out on the property on our land and at the site, bottled on the site.
It’s one of the highest quality waters in the country, the best mineral balance of any water in the country at the moment, even the imported water so we’ve got a really quality product and we package it in good quality packaging and aim it at that higher level market and it’s going really well. There’s a lot of interest from corporates, different ones. We negotiated a couple of contracts and we got a couple of those coming through so going well and looking to hopefully sign a few more.
ELLIS: Just generally about the business, how many people do you employ and your market reach?
SLABB: There’s about six people employed at the moment. As we’re expanding, we’re at that point now where we’re just looking at the growth of the company and want to expand it more to at least double that amount in the next 12 months and further. There’s good opportunity there for employment. We want to train technicians and engineers in every aspect of that industry so we’re looking at that at the moment.
ELLIS: How would you like to see the business grow? Where would you like to see it progress?
SLABB: I’d love to see it be the premium number one bottled water in the country and even internationally into the future. At the moment just within nationally, we’ve got the capacity and also we’ve got the product to be able to do that. There’s a few challenges and few things to face in the near future and growing’s always … you’ve got those issues and things to deal with as in every stage of that so we’re hoping to see that happen over the next few years and we’ve got our plan in place and we’re looking at those things.
PRESENTER: Gillian Trenerry is a Bidjara woman, born in Charleville in Queensland and brought up in Mt Isa. With a background as an electrical fitter mechanic, Gillian, along with her partner Gino, set up Fibre Optics North Queensland.
TRENNERY: We are a telecommunications cabling company. We looked at what set us apart from the others and we weren’t interested in pricing, we weren’t interested in being the cheapest. What we were interested in is being the best. And that’s where we made our mark in.
The customers we have now are Education Queensland, Queensland Health, Transport, Main Roads; these are some of the people that we actually work with.
We’ve diversified and we’ve opened up a company in WA called WA Fibre Optics, crazily enough set in Geraldton. And we’re going through the same process there.
As a company we’ve committed to employing 20 new Indigenous trainees over the next two years to become telecommunications techs. We are going to deliver to Australia the best telecommunications technicians there is and they’ll just happen to be Indigenous.
Now that would make me so proud to do that! And from there we’re hoping to go up to maybe Northern Territory; there are other products we’re looking with an international company so that’s what our company is doing.
The most important thing for us is our staff which we’ve been very lucky. None of our staff have come to us that have been trained, we’ve trained them all from scratch so I look so when we put out quality workmanship we’ve got ourselves to thank, because we taught them.
PRESENTER: Jasmin Herro is also from North Queensland and runs a number of businesses including iSustainable. It was through that work that led to the establishment of Jasmin’s new business venture Australian Outback Apparel.
HERRO: We’re a food, water and energy security company and one of our initiatives was to start providing services and products with reduced energy usage in the production. I was looking for someone to partner with to look at uniforms, workwear and merchandise made from different materials like industrial hemp, bamboo and the like so that people could have options when they’re looking at their merchandise and products of using more environmentally friendly materials.
So Australian Outback Apparel was formed last year and we’re now are working with a number of the mining companies and looking at providing them with workwear. We just got some prototypes in being tested because a lot of these safety standards that are required for the mines for fire retardancy etc. they need to be tested so we actually deal with 50 factories in China direct and we import them into Australia.
PRESENTER: Australian Outback Apparel supplies a wide range of gear to companies all over the country including members of AIMSC.
HERRO: Anything to do with workwear, office wear, so any uniforms. I’m a registered artist with the Indigenous Art Code. So I’m actually designing a couple of scarves and ties for a couple of the members of AIMSC, we also do the merchandise, the showbags, pens, all the stuff that you normally would look at all the way to sheets and towels. The last member of AIMSC that we just did work for, the NRL, we supplied all the gear for the Indigenous All Stars game so that was actually a tonne of product that we got to the Gold Coast in three weeks. They actually nominated us for an award for that.
PRESENTER: Helping Indigenous people to re-connect with their culture is one reason why Peter Cooley established Koori Communications and Training. Peter comes from La Perouse on Botany Bay in Sydney and he spoke to Newslines Radio about his business.
COOLEY: I run a business called Koori Communications and Training and we do a whole range of things, communications, training programs and stuff like that but we also run cultural stuff, cultural fishing programs and one of those is ‘Catch ‘n’ Cook’ where we take people aside and we teach them about Aboriginal culture from the area and the significance of things like the ocean and all that to our culture. We talk a little bit about traditional fishing and we provide them with a fun activity of fishing and stuff like that.
We have been operating since 2005 and up ‘till just recently we have been mainly working with Aboriginal families and children as a bit of an activity of reconnecting back to culture because I know that a lot of people are sort of, how can I put this, lacking in that area these days and we work with a lot of foster kids as well particularly the foster kids in non-Aboriginal placements where they are not receiving any kind of cultural activity. So we just try and provide them with a bit of their own culture that half of them don’t really know about.
PRESENTER: Karen Milward is a Yorta Yorta woman based in Melbourne. She runs a consulting business that provides cultural solutions to businesses and community groups. Karen spoke with Newslines Trevor Ellis
MILWARD: Well I’m a consultant, facilitator and trainer, I go all over the country. I work with lots of Aboriginal communities and their organisations delivering different types of services depending on what they want but I do a lot of social research, evaluations and reviews for government departments about Aboriginal programs that they provide funding to.
I help Aboriginal organisations set up their services, train staff, look at the governance arrangements that they have got in place and I do a lot of cultural awareness training so I design and deliver different types of cultural competency for government departments and corporates.
ELLIS: What got you interested in this field?
MILWARD: My mum was a consultant for a while and my mum and dad had their own business when I was growing up, so they had a lamp shade business and a shop and so I have always had that work ethic I suppose, embedded.
PRESENTER: That was consultant Karen Milward.
AIMSCs invaluable work connecting Indigenous businesses with corporate and government buyers around the world has been recognised by the Australian Government, which recently announced it was extending funding for AIMSC for a further three years.
If you want to find out more about what the Australian Government is doing to help Indigenous businesses, visit our website indigenous.gov.au.
You can also read our Indigenous Newslines magazine, follow Closing the Gap on Twitter, and friend Indigenous Newslines on Facebook.
Thanks for joining us, I’m Nathan Ramsay, catch you next time. Stay deadly.