First Nations businesses have become a driving force for social change, growth and the prosperity of First Nations communities around Australia. Scott Allen, descendent from the Awabakal Worimi Nations and CEO of Mandura speaks about the challenges of First Nations businesses and how we can help overcome them.
How do First Nations businesses compare to the rest of Australia’s business landscape?
“A First Nations business is defined as being 51% First Nations-owned and there are approximately 4,000-12,000 First Nations businesses around Australia, depending on who you ask. Many of those are only one or two-man bands or smaller companies. When you look at the numbers, only the top 10% turn over multitudes of dollars. Currently, First Nations businesses have around 60 billion dollars in procurement spend available, so it’s clear that there’s a lot that needs to be done,” Scott explains.
What are some of the challenges that First Nations businesses face today?
“If you look at First Nations as a whole, we have a 2% representation in university. If you look from an entrepreneurial perspective at First Nations people creating new business, just to create parity in the SME market today, we are 68,000 businesses short. First Nations businesses aren’t afforded the same things as most commercial organisations. We have to change, we have to push, we have to be better than the business next to us.
“First Nations people have the highest representation in some of the worst areas – in crime, imprisonment, poor mental health. The only way to escape that is to break the cycle.
“This is exactly what Mandura is setting out to change. We have a First Nations First employment strategy and are dedicated to supporting other First Nations entrepreneurs. We’ll also be donating 20% of all our profits to the Pauline E. McLeod Foundation. This Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for the next generation and improve mental health, entrepreneurship and education as well as create positive employment opportunities for First Nations Australians,” says Scott.
Why is it important to support First Nations businesses?
“I’m a strong believer in inclusivity and that reconciliation is a two-way street. We have to support First Nations businesses because they need help. They need real help. They come from diverse backgrounds, attitudes and cultures. We need to help young First Nations Australians by showing them that change is possible if you just go out and grasp it. That’s how we create the 68,000 entrepreneurs we need. That’s what we need to focus on and where we need to get to,” says Scott.
As the CEO of a First Nations business, what are you passionate about?
“I’m passionate about creating sustainable and future-proof roles for young First Nations Australians into vocations they typically don’t get access to. I want to provide roles that offer security to First Nations families.
“We need to be captains of industry and heads of state. We need to be the next prime minister of Australia. To do that, we need to partner with organisations that have the right social goals, the right culture and the right aspirations to make real meaningful change. That mission is at the heart of Mandura. We’re here to work together to provide future generations of First Nations people with better opportunities, security and support,” says Scott.
What are some positive outcomes that can come from supporting First Nations businesses?
To close the gap and grow existing and the number of First Nations businesses. These businesses are more likely to give young First Nations Australians a chance and provide them with sustainable roles, which is key. We have to take a longer-term approach building these businesses and building capability in First Nations people so they can have access to the same opportunities as our other Australian counterparts.
Changing the impression of the younger generation is key to driving success in First Nations and driving a new mentality around cultural, community and business engagement.”
Mandura is different from other workplace supplies providers. We are a completely separate self-determining organisation, offer a transparent process to report measurable social impacts and are enabled by Australia’s largest distribution network.
Mandura caters to every workplace need across office products, technology, furniture, cleaning and hygiene, health and safety as well as kitchen. Mandura also offers products sourced from a range of diverse suppliers including social enterprises as well as nine First Nations brands, helping you meet a range of corporate social responsibility targets.
By partnering with Mandura you can effortlessly meet targets with a Tier 1 First Nations spend with 20% of all Mandura profits delivered to the Pauline E. McLeod Foundation to support the next generation.