By Dwayne Good, Founder of InTravel Group
I have chosen to exit my role as part owner and managing director of travel management company, Inspire Travel Management, to focus on my primary business, InTravel Group, an emerging SME corporate travel management agency. There’s a lot of mixed opinions when it comes to JV’s in the Indigenous business space. It’s a polarising topic.
In forming a JV my intention was to create a majority Indigenous-owned company which had the firepower to compete at the highest levels of the corporate travel market. It has done so, catering for the larger (5M-plus per year) and more complex corporate travel programs which are best managed by the larger travel agencies. I was also driven by the desire to create a well-known Indigenous-owned and operated travel firm to lead the way and influence the travel industry to do more for Indigenous advancement.
Business such as Inspire Travel have a place in the market due to the policy and goodwill of corporate and Government Australia. The purpose of Australian social procurement initiatives is geared towards growing the Indigenous-owned business sector. This in turn creates greater levels of employment, wealth and economic independence for Indigenous people. With these social objectives in mind, a genuine JV should aim for multiple outcomes, wealth creation, Indigenous employment, and very importantly: the transfer of skills and capability for the Indigenous party.
When going through the process to resign and exit Inspire Travel Management I had time to take stock and truly assess if we’d achieved what we set out to achieve. I’m happy to say that we did. Inspire Travel Management employed, trained and developed Indigenous Australians, competed and won large scale travel contracts, influenced other travel companies to implement their own Indigenous programs, and passed on skills and knowledge to the Indigenous party (which in this case, is me).
Without spending time working alongside one of Australia’s largest travel companies, I would not have been able to increase my skills, knowledge and confidence as fast as I was able to. I learnt how to manage large teams, provide solutions for large and complex corporate travel programs, implement and manage a winning business culture, and much more.
The most valuable outcome for myself – an Aboriginal business owner – was the skills and capability transfer. With this experience I am now a BETTER business leader than before. Having just come out the other side of a good JV, I acknowledge that not all partnerships are always easy, and not all JVs are genuine about social impact; and sadly, not all partnerships are even going to work out.
So I ask the question: Is there another way for the Indigenous business sector to grow capability without forming a partnership? By considering targeted mentoring programs, industry specific skills and capability training, alliances (not JV’s) and greater collaboration with potential buyers? These are just a few ideas, but there’s so many more available to us if we put our heads together.
If you want to chat more about this please reach out, firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder, InTravel Group