The Noongar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) launched its business hub for Aboriginal businesses in Perth this week.

Already hosting nine businesses, the hub is in the heritage listed Godfrey House, the former Resident Medical Officer’s Quarters of Princess Margaret Hospital built in 1912-13.

Acquired by the NCCI in a very rundown condition and without floorboards, it took six weeks for the House to be renovated.

At the launch on Tuesday, NCCI Chair, Gordon Cole, said the journey toward the business hub first started eight years ago.

Cole was attending a supplier diversity conference with over 8,000 delegates, and he got chatting with the CEO of a chamber of commerce in Mexico.

“She spoke about the family and culture elements [in] what their chamber does [and] I was sitting there thinking, ‘We can do that. That’s what we do.’,” Cole said.

“I came back [to Australia] … I gathered our business sector, about 25 of us got together, and I asked them if we should establish a chamber and would it add value to what we do … they all said yes, so we went on the journey.”

“We took the culture philosophy of the chamber back to prior to colonisation, and we spoke about the commerce and trade we had traditionally.”

“We’re just, in a sense, reclaiming that.”

Cole said WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt, had been a “fantastic supporter” along the way.

In the two years since its launch, the Chamber has acquired 360 members across Australia including Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses.

“The concept of the business hub is to allow our business sector and businesses to [have the] opportunity to have an affordable place that they can base themselves,” Cole said.

The Chair said there are also hot desks available in the hub for other businesspeople coming in and out of the city so that they “can have a presence in the hub”, too.

Minister Wyatt officially launched the event, saying the hub was just the beginning for the NCCI.

“Chambers of commerce … have such an important role to play, not just around promoting business, but nurturing business,” the Minister said.

“You’ve got nine different organisations in [this hub] that have the capacity to not just seek work but also learn from each other.

“The business hub that we’re launching today is so important in providing that confidence and support to businesspeople.”

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, officially opening the hub. Photo by Hannah Cross.

Minister Wyatt said he expects to see more Aboriginal businesses come through the hub over the years, and that this hub now gives big corporates the chance to reach out and enter into joint ventures with Aboriginal organisations.

“Those who take the risk deserve the support, not just of government, but from established businesses and organisations like the Noongar Chamber of Commerce.”

By Hannah Cross