When Michael was two years old, he and his siblings were taken from their parents – never to be reunited as a family. Michael grew up in foster homes and in his late twenties overcame serious drug and alcohol addictions that almost claimed his life. Now Michael is a founding Director and CEO of Message Stick, a growing multimillion dollar telecommunications business.
“It was in my late twenties when a counsellor asked me what I thought were the triggers that kept me locked in a lifecycle of substance abuse. I had a sudden sense that I wanted to be financially independent and not reliant on anybody. I wanted to do something that stood out.
I realised I had strong aspirations to succeed, dreams for the future and a vision for what I wanted to achieve.
I spent the next six years trying to build my first business and make it viable. Then I met my current business partner and together we started Message Stick - this changed my life. I went from living in poverty to being comfortable.”
Message Stick now lists among its clients 100 of Australia’s top corporates and government departments, each year generating around $10 million in revenue.
“With the success of Message Stick, many other Indigenous business owners started asking how I was successful in engaging the corporate sector.
So my business partner and I sat down to think about what we could do to support other Indigenous businesses.
We researched what other nations had done in the area of Indigenous economic development, and Australia’s first ever minority supplier development council was born, Supply Nation.
Supply Nation evolved very quickly and has now launched Indigenous Business Direct, the go-to place for Indigenous business, with more than 300 Indigenous businesses certified.
Because of the change achieved in my own life, my journey has been about wanting to give back to my own people.
Community is part of my psyche so it’s important to me to have been able to put my time into growing the Indigenous business community in Australia.”
Michael’s own success and his work in supporting Indigenous businesses across the nation demonstrate how people from many different backgrounds use their own experiences to contribute to our nation’s economic success.