Hundreds of Indigenous businesses, corporate and government members of Supply Nation gathered at Randwick Race Course on Monday and Tuesday for the annual Connect 2014 event.
Supply Nation is a not-for-profit organisation, which aims to connect Indigenous suppliers with government and non-government organisations. Connect 2014 is their annual premier event that brings its suppliers and members together to network and do business.
This year Supply Nation brought a very special guest over from the US state of Mississippi. Clifton Taulbert may look the picture of success now, but growing up as a cotton picker, he built his business from the ground up.
“This is about connect; you connect with the future by clearly understanding the power of the past,” Clifton told the sea of curious faces.
“I’m pleased to share with you a portion of my life and what it means to connect, what that really, truly means to connect. One word, very powerful and very unique; every one of us has the power to connect.
“When we connect, great things can happen, but it is a choice that we have and we can take that choice lightly, or we can take it seriously.”
Clifton is Chief Executive Officer of The Freemount Corporation and The Building Institute. He is also a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and author, who travelled all the way from Mississippi, USA to speak to the packed out room.
A Welcome to Country performed by the Kunurri Dancers had the room clapping, smiling and laughing during their performance of the ‘Kangaroo Dance’ ahead of the commencement of the two days.
Welcoming speakers included Supply Nation CEO Charles Prouse, Chairperson of La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, Marcia Ella Duncan and Deputy Secretary of Indigenous Affairs Richard Eccles.
Mr Prouse spoke of the success of Indigenous businesses and of Supply Nation.
“To date we’ve recorded more than $98 million dollars worth of contracts and $91 million dollars of transactions between our corporate and government members and our suppliers,” Mr Prouse says.
The rest of the day launched into workshops for both suppliers and members of Supply Nation.
Topics discussed included embedding supplier diversity in the business, best practice in supplier diversity, understanding the supplier diversity business and tackling the issues of a certified supplier.
The afternoon sessions included talks about connecting, converting and continuing, supplier lists and government policies in business, second tiering, and leading change in business.
The day was hugely successful and wrapped up with some late afternoon networking drinks, with the Sydney city skyline making for a picturesque backdrop.
This was an opportunity for the attendees to come together and discuss all that they had learned from the day ahead of Tuesday’s tradeshow, which saw a turn out in excess of 300 people.
“Thanks to all suppliers and members as well who have come together and have provided their goods and services and showcased them all for you to see,” Mr Prouse says.
“It is the start of National Reconciliation Week as well this morning and we’ve certainly commemorated Sorry Day, so in the spirit of that I encourage you all to connect. It is Connect 2014.
“There should be close to 300 people at the tradeshow today, so for suppliers this is your opportunity and for members, after 5 years $98 million dollars I think is a drop in the ocean.
“I encourage you all to talk and actually do business and start trading a lot more than you ever have before. I encourage everyone to get on board, enjoy the day – it’s a different type of atmosphere, and get to know each other.”
The tradeshow wrapped up at 3pm, and several attendees headed over to historic Sydney Town Hall for the sold out Gala Dinner Awards night on Tuesday night.
Some stand out winners for the night included; Compass Group winning the Message Stick Corporate Member of the Year, IBA Certified Supplier of the Year went to Gilimbaa, BP Australia Up and Coming Member of the Year went to Veolia, Telstra Up and Coming Certified Supplier of the Year was awarded to PricewaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting, IAG Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year went to Guma ICRG JV and Fortescue Metals, and Supply Nation’s Special Recognition Award went to Jasmin Herro of Outback Global Australia.