Indigenous businesses were contributing up to $6.6 billion to the Australian economy, a new report by professional service firm PwC’s Indigenous Consulting said.
The report said about 11,900 businesses across Australia were behind the movement including enterprises, self-employed individuals and trusts.
Enterprises were estimated to have contributed between $1.5 billion and $5.9 billion in 2016, with self-employed individuals $309 million and trusts $406 million.
Aboriginal businessman Warren Mundine, host of Mundine Means Business on Sky News, told NIT this week he was not surprised by the figures.
He said in the two years since figures for the report were collated, the numbers would have increased even further.
“The Indigenous business sector is growing at a tremendously rapid rate,” Mr Mundine said.
He said $2 billion worth of contracts were going out to Indigenous business from Fortescue Metals Group alone.
“If you look at the other mining industry companies, you are looking at a few billion dollars just in that industry alone,” he said.
“The other industries are a bit behind that but they are starting to catch up.
“You look at the contracting coming out of the Federal Government, that’s over a billion dollars now, and the state and territory governments are now taking up that challenge as well.
“There is going to be massive growth in the Indigenous business sector over the next few years.”
Cultural growth through economic independence
Mr Mundine said many Aboriginal people were also coming out of industries such as the mining industry and starting their own businesses in myriad trades and specialties.
He said the sector’s growth was a “game-changer”.
“This is the future,” he said. “This is how we are going to lift the Aboriginal people out of poverty.
“I’ve never known any group of people in the world who ever got out of poverty without business and job creation.”
A new breed of Aboriginal executives in mainstream corporations was also adding to the momentum, Mr Mundine said.
PwC’s Indigenous Consultine chief executive officer Jodie Sizer said a robust and sustainable Indigenous economy was essential for self-determination, independent communities and ‘closing the gap’.
“More Indigenous people than ever are seeking to achieve economic independence by contributing to the economy through the establishment of Indigenous business and it’s so encouraging to see such strong growth across the sector,” Ms Sizer said.
“What is driving this growth is that more Indigenous people are wanting to invest, rather than just seeking traditional employment to look after their families and communities. “Local businesses are also developing highly targeted services for their communities and there is increased access to government-funded programs for Indigenous economic development.
“The emergence of community-based mechanisms that promote Indigenous business development has also contributed.
“Importantly, in addition to the economic contribution, Indigenous businesses can provide a significant social contribution to our society.
“Indigenous businesses are more likely to employ Indigenous people which in turn reduces the employment gap and welfare dependency.”