open side menu Navigation

09 July 2021

Thriving Indigenous business sector contributing billions to economy

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson is encouraging Australians to support Indigenous businesses, as the nation celebrates NAIDOC WEEK 2021.

Mr Billson says the Indigenous business sector is one of the fastest growing in Australia, with fresh data from the University of Melbourne revealing indigenous businesses’ contribution to the economy has more than doubled.

“This new research shows how critical the Indigenous business sector is to the national economy,” Mr Billson says.

“In the 12 years to 2018, the sector saw a 115% lift in gross income to $4.88 billion and that is expected to continue to grow.

“The same period saw a 74% increase in the number of businesses operating in the Indigenous business sector with more than 45,000 jobs created.

“Interestingly, the Indigenous business sector is made up of mostly small businesses with an average of 14 employees and average gross income of $1.6 million. That’s well above the non-Indigenous business average of $400,000 in gross income and two staff members.

“We know every dollar spent with an Indigenous business goes a long way. According to Supply Nation, for every $1 of revenue, certified Indigenous suppliers generate $4.41 of social return.

“Some great examples of this can be seen in ASBFEO’s Indigenous Success Stories series, profiling a number of inspiring indigenous businesses that have embraced reciprocity as a reflection of culture in the way they do business.

Kakadu Tinytots for instance, plants eco gardens in remote communities so children can have access to fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.

“Others are investing in the next generation of indigenous professionals such as Willyama Services, an IT business which offers vocational training to indigenous high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in technical support.

“In fact, indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to employ other indigenous staff according to Supply Nation, which is why procuring from indigenous businesses is an investment in both indigenous employment and economic development more broadly.

“While indigenous businesses provide services across a range of industries, there are a number that have been hit hard by the pandemic, such as those businesses relying on the tourist trade.

“It’s especially important that we support these businesses as much as possible as they work to recover from this challenging period.”