In Australia, businesses with Chinese backgrounds make up a large proportion of construction and development industries.
But there was never a place for these businesses to connect and gain support to help their businesses thrive – until Carson Gao founded his ground-breaking organisation with the vision: empower members, advance industry and better community.
“We are committed to advocating for Chinese construction and development enterprises in Australia, especially in NSW,” he said.
“We hope through our presence we can help the voices of businesses owned by Australian-Chinese people be heard, and the Chinese community in Australia becomes better.”
Gao, the CEO and founder of the Chinese Building Association of NSW (CBANSW), was ten years into a joint business venture with the Master Builders Association of NSW, when he noticed something about his community and the industries he worked with.
“A lot of people working in the construction industry have a Chinese background. We also have a lot of investors and developers with Chinese background or from China,” he said.
People with Chinese ancestry make up 5.5 per cent of Australia’s population, and 10.6 per cent of the population of Sydney, NSW. More than 100,000 Chinese-Australians are construction workers.
Chinese-Australians are active in the development industry as well. According to a report from Knight Frank Australia in 2019, Chinese developers and investors purchased $1.3 billion worth of Australian residential development sites in 2018m which was 31 per cent of total site sales. What’s more, almost 11 per cent of all new apartments built in 2018 were by Chinese developers.
But Gao realised there was nowhere to access support for the Chinese community working in the construction and development industries.
“We needed to provide professional development, so they know what’s happening in the industry, new regulations and compliance requirements as well,” he said.
Gao co-founded CBANSW with two others in January 2020 to fill this gap for his community and fellow colleagues. Now, there are more than 380 business members, more than 90 builder members and more than 60 developer members with the organisation.
“Every member joining us has a different need – some members come with the purpose of branding, some come just to build up connections,” Gao said.
“We try to understand every members’ needs.”
Each time a new member joins CBANSW, Gao and his team get to know their business scope, the size of their business, capacity, target audience and any other vital information. They do this so they can meaningfully match and connect them with other members to build positive and beneficial professional relationships within the Chinese construction and development communities.
“There is a lack of connection for (Chinese) business owners in the industries to grow their businesses and take it to the next level,” he said.
“We use our service to understand their business better… all of this helps foster collaboration.”
CBANSW also offers purpose-built seminars, workshops and events, where members can not just network, but also learn more about the industry in an Australian context.
“We run events and seminars based on what our members want or need to tackle their challenges,” Gao said.
“We want to facilitate communication between Australia and China in the construction and development sectors.”
The way to do this, Gao has found, is to diversify CBANSW’s member base, to go beyond the Chinese-Australian community in NSW. Doing so makes CBANSW stand out from competitors as not only a support network for Chinese-Australians in the development and construction industries, but also an opportunity to engage in the wider market in NSW.
“Not every member is Chinese – we actually have around 10 per cent of our members come from non-Chinese background,” he said.
“When we offer connections to industry leaders, businesses and governments, we open it to anyone who shares our vision and values.”
Gao and his team at CBANSW strive to fortify the Chinese-Australian community and foster collaboration within the construction and development sectors, exemplifying inclusivity and progress for all.