Indigenous business Cundaline Resources has partnered with burgeoning company Bardbenya Resources in a 100 per cent Indigenous-owned, operated and managed joint venture.

Leading Indigenous entrepreneur Brenden Taylor, owner and managing director of Cundaline Resources, knows what it’s like to build a business from the ground up.

Originally a tradesman, Mr Taylor put down the tools to start Cundaline. Over the years he says he’s noticed Indigenous business has been put into a box.

“Being an Indigenous business … you’re pigeonholed to work in your Native Title area,” he told NIT.

“That’s one of the reasons why we started this joint venture, is to partner with other Native Title holders to work outside our Native Title areas.”

When his nephew Warrick Wilson and business partner Alan Long approached Mr Taylor about a joint venture, Mr Taylor was more than happy to help.

Bardbenya Resources is owned by Mr Wilson, a Nyiyaparli, Bunjima, Kariyarra and Nyamal man; Mr Long, a Nyiyaparli and Bunjima man; and Deomitt Wilson, a Nyiyaparli, Bunjima, Kariyarra and Nyamal man. Along with Mr Taylor, a Nyamal and Tjiwarl man, their Traditional Owner groups cover most of the Pilbara.

Both Mr Wilson and Mr Taylor are from Jinparinya Community, a remote Pilbara community about 30km east of Port Hedland. Together, they plan to diversify the Indigenous business space in the Pilbara.

Bardbenya provides a range of services to the resource sector, including general and mechanical site maintenance, heritage and surveying, and general mine support such as labour hire and traffic management.  

But before the young business can reach its potential, it needs experience.

Prior to Bardbenya, Mr Wilson says he was unsure about which career path to take. He began an apprenticeship as a boilermaker while playing in the WAFL (Western Australian Football League) for Swan Districts.

“I had to make a choice: to stay doing my apprenticeship or follow my career in business. I chose to start a business,” Mr Wilson said.

As he continues with his WAFL career, he says it’s important for football players to have a strategy for their life after football.

“Looking towards the future, [players] need to have that exit plan ready,” Mr Wilson said.

“There’s always going to be an end to it and you want to be able to finish footy and have something to fall back on.”

When Mr Wilson and his business partners decided to create Bardbenya, they leapt at the opportunity to enter into a 100 per cent Indigenous-owned and operated joint venture with Cundaline Resources.

Although Bardbenya has been operational for just under three months, Mr Wilson says each week has been a learning curve. He says it’s reassuring to have Cundaline supporting Bardbenya to get off the ground.

“It’s building my confidence each day, learning and owning your own business,” he said.

“With the help of Cundaline and Brenden … we’re starting to learn more and more.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, where we become happy and successful but … we’re very confident in the way we are going about it and we have the right people around us.

“This can be something very special and unique.”

Cundaline has already brought Bardbenya on to one of its current contracts to supply labour hire and give the business the foot in the door it needs.

“Cundaline Resources are in a position now, being a mainstream contractor, to support other Indigenous businesses. And one thing we want to focus on is helping build capability and capacity,” Mr Taylor said.

“Bardbenya is the first Indigenous business that we are going to capacity build.”

Cundaline will back Bardbenya in this joint venture for three to four years, or until it is ready to operate as a standalone business.

“That will be a big achievement for Cundaline knowing we’ve got a business to where it needs to be,” Mr Taylor said.

“The best thing about that is showing other people and non-Indigenous businesses, it can be done.”

Mr Wilson feels he’s growing alongside his business.

“This is something that I’ve really enjoyed, I’m very passionate about it. I’m becoming more confident each day, dealing with people. I’m a shy person, so doing this has brought me out of my shell.”

If there’s one piece of advice Mr Taylor can offer his nephew, it’s to “stay true to yourself”. For him, that means supporting the growth of the Indigenous business sector.

“It feels real special, knowing that we can help our people and support other Indigenous businesses,” Mr Taylor said.

By Hannah Cross