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Key message from IBECC 2016: Indigenous businesses numbers are growing but we need to go eyes open i

Earlier this month I attended the 2016 Indigenous Business, Enterprise & Corporations Conference (IBECC) in Perth Western Australia. The conference was attended by participants from all over Australia. There were many Indigenous entrepreneurs, Aboriginal corporations, government officers and corporate representatives from mining, health and consulting.

Social Impact UWA / IBECC16

The Conference highlighted the growth of the Indigenous business sector, now expanding in the wake of the Indigenous Procurement Policy. Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation reported that 6 years on from the establishment of Supply Nation (originally formed as the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council), the results have been outstanding. Laura noted that the public targets and accountability of the Indigenous Procurement Policy has been a game changer. Supply Nation is a member of the Global Diversity Supplier Alliance and is working with alliance organisation in the US, UK and Canada.

Jodie Sizer, Co-CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting said that the IPP was a foot into the wider economy. She noted that the number of Indigenous businesses are growing at a higher rate than non-Indigenous businesses. Jodie highlighted emerging opportunities in healthcare, agriculture and tourism, and pointed out that Indigenous businesses will need legal advice and financial advice to gear up for these business opportunities.

Jodie Sizer, Laura Berry & Paul Flatau.

I took part in a panel that discussed the Kakadu Plum Story. I reinforced the importance of negotiating an Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement. Indigenous intellectual property and how that is protected in commercial markets was also a topic raised a number of times during the Conference.

I delivered a Plenary Address around the benefits and opportunities of the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP). My main message was that the benefits of the IPP should not be overshadowed by the risks and challenges for Indigenous businesses. Entering into joint venture opportunities with non-Indigenous businesses allow Indigenous business to build capacity and access networks and resources. However, it is important to also ensure fairness and transparency, and to build a solid foundation for the Indigenous party to the JV to control and maintain the Indigenous JV.

Social Impact UWA / IBECC16

On the last day, I spoke on the Breakfast by the Bay panel, which focused on Indigenous Women in Business. The panel was chaired by Professor Jill Milroy and included Kristal Kinsela, Natalie Walker, and Amanda Healy. This was a lively session of sharing the highs and lows of setting up business.

Breakfast by the Bay Panelists, Social Impact UWA / IBECC16

It was good to run into many of our clients, colleagues and friends at the Conference, and to meet some new ones. I thank the organisers and Professor Paul Flatau and his team for inviting me.

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