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Dispelling Myths For Māori And Pasifika Businesses

When the government’s progressive procurement policy was announced by Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson, almost 12 months ago, no one predicted the impact it would have. The policy has set a procurement contract target for government agencies and Māori businesses.

Now, one year on, over 80 government agents, corporates and Iwi have put their hands up in support of the progressive procurement policy and supplier diversity.

Amotai is the supplier diversity intermediary for Māori and Pasifika businesses, and is funded by Te Puni Kōkiri and Auckland Council to work with big buyers like government agents, Iwi and corporates, to amplify supplier diversity awareness and practices throughout Aotearoa.

“Over $100 million contracts have been awarded to Māori and Pasifika businesses in less than 12 months as a result of working with buyers,” says Ariana Paul, Manukura for Amotai. “Many of the businesses have gone on to win other contracts after being connected to a buyer. They just needed to have a seat at the table and opportunity to prove themselves,” Paul continues.

Dispelling the myths that Māori and Pasifika businesses don’t have capacity or capability, supplier diversity champions such as Kāinga Ora and Auckland Transport, have been paving the way for other organisations to follow. “Supplier diversity isn’t for the faint-hearted,” says Paul. “It takes calabash breakers – leaders who know that equity will never be achieved by doing the same thing.”

Dave Colquhoun, Procurement Manager (Infrastructure) and Sustainable Procurement Lead, says, “Auckland Transport is proud to be an early adopter of supplier diversity with Amotai. We made a step change to include supplier diversity as it fits with our organisational values and objectives and contributes positively to Aotearoa being a diverse, inclusive and equitable society where we create shared prosperity.”

In addition to the social outcomes that supplier diversity brings, working with diverse suppliers promotes innovation, provides multiple channels in the supply chain and drives healthy competition.

“We’re a Māori owned electrical business and we want to create successful pathways for Māori coming through,” says Trent Beazley, co-owner of Caliber Electrics. “One of the benefits of being with Amotai is being able to forecast for mahi, not just 3 months ahead, but 3-5 years ahead,” says Rachel Beazley (co-owner).

“The harsh realities of the August lockdown is excruciating for many Māori business owners and unfortunately, we know that some businesses won’t survive,” says Paul. “The biggest lever that the government has to pull is the progressive procurement policy, which would mean that every mandated agency would look into their procurement practices and act.”

“The policy is about levelling the playing field and removing inequities and disparities that have existed in Aotearoa for far too long.” Ariana continues, “For every lockdown that Aotearoa has been through, the gaps have continued to widen for Māori and Pasifika whānau. Through supplier diversity, we can see the impact– just take these past 12 months and $100 million awarded in contracts to Amotai businesses as an example.”

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