Every dollar spent with Indigenous businesses sees $4.41 generated in social return. A new partnership between consultancy firm Beca and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs aims to lead the way when it comes to real action.
The goal of the strategic partnership between Beca and the Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium (iDiC) is to support the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
One of the pair’s first joint projects will involve iDiC partner Origin Project Management (OriginPM), which will provide project management services to Beca on the Defence Aviation Safety Regulation 139 Aerodromes Transition Project, a European Union regulation requiring enhanced runway safety and data quality.
Beca Australia Managing Director Craig Lee said the partnership would assist the Department of Defence’s aerodrome capability to meet certification requirements.
“This is just the beginning of many long-term contracts [and] we endeavour to partner with iDiC’s many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and managed businesses,” he said.
“We also have a lot to gain from purchasing from Indigenous businesses beyond products or services. Sharing of knowledge and culture shifts the paradigm and provides First Australians with strength and success.”
CEO and founder of iDiC, AFL legend and Adnyamathanha man Adam Goodes, said the consortium focuses on long-term nation building projects that build sovereign capability and support communities.
“We have over 100 Indigenous businesses as part of the consortium that we will help Beca engage with, to create solutions as a supply chain aggregator and relationship manager,” he said.
“We want to be part of your family and to add value where we can. That’s the best form of partnership – creating value for each other.”
Creating genuine engagement
IDiC partner Daniel Joinbee, a Gunggandji man and Managing Director of OriginPM, told create that consortium partners are vetted before coming on board. Each must be Aboriginal owned, controlled and have a working knowledge of their business.
“Once you’re engaged at the consortium level, members will be invited to meet with strategic partners such as Beca for support in large procurements, supporting everything from cybersecurity projects all the way through to environmental remediation, technical surveying and engineering,” he said.
Joinbee added that when partnering with Indigenous businesses, early consultation is key.
“When it comes to procurement activity, being a last resort isn’t genuine engagement,” he said.
“If you have a service line that could be supported by Indigenous businesses, reach out proactively. Set up a meeting to discuss how they can support your business before there is a specific procurement event.
“Firms should also get started on a Reconciliation Action Plan. That should direct company culture and policy to diversifying your supply chain and pathways to create a market for businesses.”
Effective partnerships breed success
Engagement with the consortium structure allows Indigenous businesses access to large projects that they may not traditionally approach due to size and scale.
“Through iDiC, we’re providing access to those procurement activities through our strategic partners, and also advocating with those strategic partners for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, and highlighting unique technical capabilities that we have as part of a consortium,” Joinbee said.
Cameron Menzies, Beca’s General Manager of Customer and Markets, explained that the firm’s strategic partnership is built on four pillars.
“They include joint go-to-market [initiatives], where we win and deliver work together. Then there’s education and cultural literacy, where we’re working to upskill our people with iDiC and their business partners,” he said.
“IDiC is helping us build out our Reconciliation Action Plan to take us to the next stage of our journey through partnership with Indigenous businesses. Finally, there’s procuring through Indigenous businesses.”
Not only is Beca’s involvement with iDiC supporting its people and values, but Menzies said the partnership is already proving to be a commercial success.
“It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense,” he said.
“The Indigenous business sector has some fantastic, class-leading capabilities in environmental, technical and cultural fields.”