Adam Williams (L) and Shawn Andrews (R) have big plans for their business, SupplyAUS Holdings
26 May 2022
Shawn Andrews and Adam Williams describe themselves as “the 3% of the 3%” – two proud Aboriginal men who have overcome the systemic disadvantage faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and become highly successful. And together they are seizing the opportunity to change the narrative of what it means to be a “modern Indigenous business”.
They are two of the co-founders of SupplyAUS Holdings, a 100% Indigenous-owned procurement business supplying a range of products to organisations across the country. When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, they already had a contract to supply hand sanitiser to Woolworths, but they had to scale up in a hurry. They managed to deliver 120 tonnes of sanitiser to the supermarket giant within weeks, helping Woolworths to keep stores open and protect its staff and customers. Andrews points to this as proof that Indigenous businesses are dynamic and capable. “We’re familiar with working under pressure and are solution finders,” he says.
Since then the business has gone from strength to strength, and Westpac is proud to have supported its growth. Leanne Coventry, a business manager in our Indigenous Banking team, has been working with the pair since 2019, and has recently helped them secure a loan that will allow them to expand their product offering and move into new markets.
The difference, says Williams, is that Leanne and the Westpac team really backed them to achieve their goals. “Our previous bank was never interested in the loan because, deep down, they didn’t believe that we were capable of doing what we said we would do,” he says. “Westpac really believed in us as a business and that makes a huge difference.”
They also see their own success as an opportunity to make a difference and invest in their community. Companies like SupplyAUS can have a significant social impact by employing, mentoring and training young Indigenous people and helping them to navigate the world of work. They’re hoping other businesses will join them in providing those employment pathways, working together to break down barriers and creating opportunities for young Indigenous people to thrive.
SupplyAUS also invests a percentage of profits in charity partner, Dreaming Futures, which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care.
“We’re not interested in being a $10m or even a $100m company,” says Andrews. “We’re interested in being a $1b company and changing the Indigenous narrative from a negative to a positive. And that also allows us to put money back into helping end disadvantage for Indigenous youth.”