13 February 2024

Empowering Indigenous Economies with Supply Nation

The significance of Supply Nation certified businesses in contributing to reconciliation

Supply nation certified logo atop a background of construction work

Businesses in Australia play a pivotal role in fostering reconciliation by actively engaging with Indigenous businesses - mainly by partnering and sourcing products or services from them. 

These partnerships promote economic empowerment of Indigenous communities and therefore contribute significantly to reconciliation efforts and delivery of organisational RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) targets.

Supporting Indigenous Businesses

One key method to ensure the authenticity and credibility of such partnerships is by working with Indigenous businesses that are third-party verified by an established entity. 

Enter Supply Nation.

Supply Nation (originally the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council) was established in 2009 with the aim of promoting and facilitating the economic development of Indigenous businesses in Australia.

To achieve its vision of “a prosperous, vibrant and sustainable Indigenous business sector” Supply Nation operates as a supplier diversity organisation that connects corporate and government buyers with Indigenous-owned businesses that are registered or certified with Supply Nation. 

The idea is to increase opportunities for Indigenous businesses to participate in the supply chains of larger organisations, fostering economic growth and creating sustainable employment within Indigenous communities.

With their work, the organisation aims to promote understanding about how the purchasing power of businesses can be used to deliver positive social outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

The Certification Process

The main way Supply Nation achieves their mission is by providing a certification process to verify that businesses seeking to participate in their network meet stringent criteria including Indigenous ownership and control. The process comprises 5 steps including registration, certification and auditing.

The main criterion for businesses to achieve and maintain certification is being 51% or more Indigenous owned, managed and controlled. This is verified via a confirmation letter from a recognised institution as well as the signing of a legally binding statutory declaration form.

Supply Nation certified businesses then make it onto the Indigenous Business Direct database that can be easily browsed by those looking for Indigenous suppliers.

This certification then helps build trust and credibility, making it easier for Indigenous businesses to secure contracts with major buyers and participate in the broader economy. 

Mitigating 'Black Cladding'

Supply Nation's mission is to provide a highly dependable verification system to help governments and corporations diversify their supply chains.

Its rigorous, five-step process for verifying, monitoring, and auditing the Indigenous authenticity of businesses ensures that legitimate Indigenous enterprises have the highest probability of success in the marketplace.

It also mitigates the risk of 'black clad' businesses infiltrating the directory, which is when non-Indigenous businesses claim to be Indigenous in project bids for the purpose of winning government contracts.

Opting for Supply Nation certified Indigenous businesses allows companies to rest assured that they are contributing to sustainable development within Indigenous communities, fostering an inclusive business landscape and advancing reconciliation goals.


Supply Nation Success Stories

It is promising to see that, as of 2023, over 4,500 verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses are already registered on the Indigenous Business Direct database. 

Although Supply Nation certified businesses do not have mandatory requirements for Indigenous employment or community engagement, the evidence shows that Indigenous businesses are far more likely than non-Indigenous businesses to invest and employ in their communities. 

This in turn means increased financial independence and self-determination as well as enhanced education and skill development within Indigenous communities.

Not only has Supply Nation allowed Australian businesses to diversify their supply chains, contribute to reconciliation and meet procurement requirements, but it has also allowed for collaborations between Supply Nation certified businesses. 

Examples of positive outcomes for businesses and communities as a result of Supply Nation include the:

BY Group is also a proud Supply Nation certified supplier, and we look forward to the long term positive impacts of Supply Nation certified business on Indigenous economic development and the broader goals of reconciliation in Australia.

To learn about what your construction business should be tracking to measure your Indigenous engagement, read our blog on the metrics that matter.


If you’d like to learn more about BY Group's construction experience, capability and approach, please get in touch to discuss your next project and how we can assist in meeting your Indigenous engagement goals.