More businesses are looking to make smarter and more meaningful choices through their procurement spend and supplier relations. However, it can be challenging to recognise the true value gained through these partnerships and transactions. Scott Allen, a descendant from the Awabakal Worimi Nations and CEO of Mandura, unpacks what ‘value for money’ truly means and how you can stretch your dollar further by supporting First Nations organisations.

What is “value for money”?

Scott believes education plays a crucial role in understanding what ‘value for money’ means when you engage with First Nations businesses.

“Many businesses define ‘value for money’ from a purely financial standpoint, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. This is where we need to change the narrative. When you consider the bigger picture and the impact your spend can have on the local economy, marginalised communities and the environment, that’s when you can begin to scratch the surface of what ‘value for money’ truly means,” explains Scott.

“Doing business with First Nations organisations should go beyond ticking a corporate and social responsibility box. When you look at that partnership or transaction from an end-to-end perspective, you’ll start to recognise the value along the entire supply chain,” says Scott.

What challenges do First Nations organisations face in securing capital?

“One of the biggest challenges we face is risk versus balance sheet. When we go after larger opportunities, stakeholders often look at us and put us in the high-risk category. Because First Nations businesses are generally very small, we often find ourselves up against larger businesses who have better buying capability and bargaining power,” says Scott.

“Many businesses focus solely on the dollar amount when engaging with suppliers, rather than the value gained along the entire supply chain and the impact of their spending power in the long run. As a result, it’s more common for businesses like ours to secure subcontracting work. The problem with these short-term commitments is that they lead to an inconsistent revenue stream, making it harder for the business to grow. This is where the concept of ‘value for money’ plays a crucial role,” Scott shares.

What value do First Nations businesses provide?

Genuine First Nations businesses have a triple bottom line that focuses holistically on impacts to the economy, the environment and the community. “We measure our success using results from our economic performance, how we can minimise our impact to the environment and maximise benefits for our community. This is how we’ve built our value system and our goals,” Scott explains.

At their core, community, well-being and Country take precedence over profit. “As a community and culture, we’re trying to build ourselves out of hundreds of years of facing generational challenges. First Nations businesses exist to provide the opportunities that many of our young people don’t have access to. We exist to make meaningful change beyond making a profit,” says Scott.

An example is providing opportunities for young First Nations Australians. “We want to give First Nations peoples access to better education and career opportunities. We need to break that cycle they’re currently in. Our top priority is the future of our next generation,” says Scott.

Understanding your impact

Education around what First Nations businesses stand for is crucial for understanding the value they can provide.

“We know there’s a huge educational piece we have to drive so that commercial and government organisations can fully understand their impact. When your organisation spends a little more with a First Nations business, the spend goes exponentially further in the long run,” says Scott.

While businesses used to be measured by shareholder value, this outlook is changing. Businesses have started to demonstrate genuine care for the environment and community through the implementation of Corporate and Social Responsibility programs. Scott recommends creating a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), identifying clear goals and working with a First Nations business that aligns with your business goals.

“If you want to help First Nations organisations build something real and meaningful, you have to understand their mission and the mutually agreeable benefit gained when you do business with them. Once you understand that, you’ll start to see the real value for money,” says Scott.

The beginning of Mandura

“We’re working hard to ensure our customers, stakeholders and the community can see the change we’re making through the Pauline E. McLeod Foundation. And we’ve already started to see the impacts. With the support from Winc, we’ve been able to build this organisation faster and stronger than we could imagine. We don’t want to just survive anymore – we want to prosper,” says Scott.

Find out more about Mandura and the impact the business is making by getting in contact with our team at enquiries@mandura.com.au.

Scott Allen, CEO

Scott Allen, Chief Executive Officer
Mandura

Scott Allen, CEO

Jamie Varga, HR Administrator,
with younger brother Vernon

About Mandura

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.

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