New research has highlighted the significant economic, social and cultural contributions that Indigenous businesses make to Australia, including at least $4.88 billion to the economy.
The inaugural snapshot study, led by the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Business Research Group, has utilised data pooled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Aboriginal business data custodians.
The data has formed the Indigenous Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (I-BLADE), which aims to track all First Peoples businesses over time.
Indigenous Business Research Group head and research lead Associate Professor Michelle Evans said the study has shown that Aboriginal businesses have more than just a significant economic impact.
“They contribute employment and deliver services to Indigenous communities, including health and education services, in a culturally sensitive manner that is essential for ensuring trust and accessibility of service for Indigenous people that rely on them,” she said in a statement.
“They also often punch above their weight when compared to non-Indigenous businesses in terms of size, employee numbers and higher wages. On top of that, the sector is growing more quickly.”
The study found that there was a 74% increase in the number of Indigenous businesses from 2006 to 2018. Over that same period, there was also a 115% growth in gross income, and more than 22,000 jobs created (100% increase).
Gross income for the sector was $4.88 billion in 2018, which was more than Australia’s beer industry, at $4.3 billion.
According to the university, the comprehensive data put forward in the snapshot can be used by policymakers to identify and target areas in the Aboriginal business sector that need the most assistance.
The Indigenous Business Research Group plans to continue collaborating with Indigenous business data custodians and the ABS into the future.
Evans said that, over the coming years, the research would paint an annual picture of the sector’s scope and strength.
“This snapshot will capture an image of the Indigenous business sector each year — from community, government, corporate, banking, education, to investment stakeholders — informing the sector ecosystem,” she said.
“Critically, it will show the impact of focused sector support, such as the introduction of Indigenous preferential procurement programs.”