Do the major corporations have the capacity to ensure they are interfacing effectively with Aboriginal businesses?  The good news is that most major corporations that do business in regional Australia recognise the value in creating economic opportunities that are inclusive of Aboriginal businesses.  The bad news is that there is still scope to do better to ensure engagement with Aboriginal businesses is meaningful and sustained.

Red Ochre not only assists Aboriginal enterprises with their business planning, but we also make it our business to stay in touch to monitor progress.  It’s a great way to get feedback on the work we’ve done and a great way for the client to reflect on their progress.

Eighteen months ago Red Ochre assisted a start-up soil stabilisation company, Ngooltja Contracting, with business planning. They had been invited to set up an agency for dust suppression products called Dustac and Soiloc.

Ngooltja experienced start-up challenges:

  • lots of capital out and very little in
  • trying to make sales and running up some blind alleys.

Looking back now everyone can celebrate the progress made. Cash flow has started to look sustainable and there are regular customers on the books.

The major impediment, however, has been to position Ngooltja within the normal supply chain of major corporations, as is the norm with established mainstream companies.  Ngooltja was quick to point out that Community Relations people are always helpful. The problem is they are not responsible for purchasing decisions. Ngooltja Company Secretary, Caroline Lavis, said it often took months before anyone got back to them, if at all. Their experience was that sales are closed only through direct dealings with the Purchasing Officer and that Aboriginal businesses ought not to be treated any differently in this respect.

We’re keen to hear more about the experiences of other Aboriginal corporations and those of large corporations. The purchaser-provider relationship is pivotal and we must get it right.


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