The value of investing in indigenous business

Published on : 1/14/20
  • Australian Indigenous Coffee’s blends are inspired by the Pilbara country, with earthy textures of the red desert plains, the bright highlights of the spinifex and the rich aromas of the bush. It is a middle of the road blend; strong, chocolatey and earthy.

    Australian Indigenous Coffee (AIC) has expanded faster than many small businesses, with its sustainable growth supported by one of the country’s largest companies with a conscience, Sodexo.
    Brothers Ezekiel and Blaze Kwaymullina, Palyku men from the inland Pilbara region of Western Australia, began AIC in 2013 with less than $5,000.

    It started as a small, family business, with Ezekiel; a writer and coffee lover, and Blaze, an academic, invited to supply a small amount of coffee to clients in the brothers’ traditional lands of the Pilbara. Before long, AIC realised that clients needed a holistic hot beverage solution, including beans, training, machines and servicing.

    A meeting in 2016 changed the course of the company when Sodexo, which provides integrated services to a range of segments, including energy and resources, made the decision for AIC to supply coffee to a number of its sites. This meant instant scaling and allowed AIC to quickly become the largest Aboriginal-owned coffee supplier in Western Australia.

    EMPOWERED FOR GROWTH WITH SODEXO

    AIC’s partnership with Sodexo has been the catalyst for transforming the company from a small family business into a recognised supplier of coffee in Western Australia, growing its presence not just throughout the State, but also throughout the country.

    AIC is now served at more than 20 of Sodexo’s sites and has been selected as the exclusive Australian coffee supplier for Sodexo’s global coffee offer, Aspretto, a premium coffee lounge experience.

    Sodexo’s partnership contributes significant value to AIC’s sales revenue annually. This has allowed AIC to perfect and consolidate its business model into a national, full-service coffee supply company which forecasts a robust growth profile into FY20 and beyond.

    “If you don’t have support from a company like Sodexo, with that kind of willingness and commitment to help you grow, it can be very difficult to go to that next stage.”
    - Ezekiel Kwaymullina, CEO Australian Indigenous Coffee

    COMMUNITY

    What’s often echoed is Indigenous business is good for the community, and the Sodexo and AIC partnership is no exception. AIC’s success has provided Ezekiel and Blaze the opportunity to run a barista training program to support young Aboriginal people via the Clontarf Foundation (of which Sodexo is a national partner) which allows an early taste of a career in hospitality. AIC also supports a Beans to Books program with Australia’s only independent Indigenous publisher, Mugabala Books, to raise funds to support Indigenous literacy in remote communities.

    SODEXO, WORKING TOWARDS RECONCILIATION

    Sodexo, global leader in Quality of Life services, approached the opportunity to work with AIC as a partnership, to ensure a positive community impact.

    Supporting AIC is part of one of Sodexo’s key actions of its Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan to invest in Indigenous owned businesses. This contributes to bridging the gap, including breaking down preconceived notions about Indigenous business in corporate Australia and infusing funds into local communities.

    “For Sodexo, our partnership with AIC is part of our commitment to invest in Indigenous businesses; working to build capacity and capability and change the view of Australians about the role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people play in corporate Australia.”
    - Sean Armistead, General Manager, Indigenous & Community Engagement