Aboriginal businesses are set to benefit from today’s announcement of a landmark $50 million funding initiative supported by Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) and ANZ.
Officially launched by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, the guaranteed leasing facility will provide a practical finance solution to Aboriginal businesses who supply services to Fortescue.
Supported by a guarantee from Fortescue, eligible businesses will be able to access finance at a competitive rate through ANZ to lease required assets.
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Nev Power thanked ANZ for supporting the innovative partnership, which will help address some of the systemic challenges facing many Aboriginal businesses.
“Through ongoing consultation, we know that access to capital to fund income generating assets has been identified by Aboriginal groups as a major barrier to building sustainable businesses,” Mr Power said.
“We are proud to be able to provide these businesses with tools to help build value and sustainability, which in turn creates employment and development opportunities.
"This is another practical measure by Fortescue to support Aboriginal communities on their journey to economic sustainability and reduced welfare dependence, by providing support for business development to build long term capability and capacity leading to jobs.”
ANZ Managing Director, Institutional Australia Graham Turley said ANZ was committed to supporting businesses in making a positive impact in their local communities.
“We are proud to partner with Fortescue on an initiative that is not only practical but will empower Aboriginal businesses,” Mr Turley said.
“This is a great opportunity for us to continue using our expertise to help Aboriginal businesses develop sustainable operations, while also strengthening our relationships with these business owners and their communities.”
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, congratulated Fortescue and ANZ for developing this innovative new funding product which will give First Australian businesses a real opportunity to deliver contracts more profitably.
“The Indigenous business sector is growing rapidly, with more and more commercial opportunities opening up so it just makes sense for big business to find solutions to the financial barriers many Indigenous businesses experience as they seize these opportunities,” Minister Scullion said.
“The businesses registered with Supply Nation are growing at an average annual rate of 12.5%. Collectively these businesses now earn more than $1 billion a year. But access to capital remains a key constraint to growth.
“Corporate Australia has a key role to play in ensuring Indigenous Australians are at the heart of the Australian economy.
“I encourage all Australian businesses to follow the lead of Fortescue and ANZ and to develop innovative ways to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in their industries.”
Since the inception of the Billion Opportunities program in 2011, Fortescue has awarded nearly $2 billion in contracts to 105 Aboriginal-owned businesses and joint ventures.
This year, Fortescue won the Supply Nation Corporate Member of the Year and the Outstanding Impact awards.
In May 2017, Fortescue introduced 14-day from invoice payment terms for Aboriginal businesses nationally and small businesses in the Pilbara, to improve operational cash flow and ease pressure on suppliers.