Kooya – success built on family and community

  • Indigenous Affairs

How 2024 West Australian of the Year and NAIDOC Award Winner Kim Collard made his mark in business and the community.

  • 09.07.2024
  • Time to read 1 min read
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Kim Collard, Kooya CEO and 2024 West Australian of the Year and Male Elder of the Year.

2024 West Australian of the Year and NAIDOC Award Winner Kim Collard started Kooya Group of Companies over 25 years ago when he took the opportunity to prove himself with a big project.

“We started Kooya when we saw a gap in the market for fleet finance and rentals around WA, particularly in regional WA near mining locations,” Kim Collard, the Founder and Chair of Kooya said.

“There were some early challenges where businesses doubted what we were capable of, and it was clear they had perceptions of a glass ceiling for us.”

Kim, a Balladong/Wadjuk Elder of the Noongar Nation, wanted to prove the doubters wrong, and he got his opportunity with a large joint venture project to supply vehicles to a major oil and gas project in the Pilbara, Wheatstone with Chevron.

“It was a massive project, and we worked really hard and did a cracking job. It gave us a boost in confidence that we belonged in this space and that we could do this work well, while it also helped in putting us on the map in our industry.

Kooya, a NAB business customer based in Perth, has since established itself as the largest Aboriginal-owned salary packaging company, providing fleet management and commercial and industrial equipment hire across Australia.

 

In the family

A key part of Kim’s vision for Kooya was to develop a strong business that would provide for his family for generations to come, while giving back to the broader community.

This is now a reality, with the next generation of the business being overseen by Sharna Collard, Kim’s daughter, who took over as CEO in 2019.

"For me, it’s great to continue the legacy my dad started and to make sure we keep building the business while also supporting the community," Sharna said.

“Kooya has been a big part of my life since I was a kid, and I want to play my part so the next generation of our family has something important like this that creates employment opportunities and makes an impact in our community.”

Giving back

As the business has steadily grown, so has the community support provided by Kooya with five per cent of its profits donated to the Bibbulmun Fund, which aims to support Aboriginal-owned and delivered projects.

Recognised as West Australian of the Year 2024 and NAIDOC Award winner for the work of the Bibbulmun Fund, Kim was proud reflecting on the impact made.

“Back in 2015, we started the Bibbulmun Fund as a way to open new possibilities for Aboriginal enterprises and foster entrepreneurial leadership.

“I’m so proud that we’ve raised over $1.4 million which has funded health and education programs, provided support for women and children fleeing domestic violence and supported the LGBTQ+ community,” Kim said.

Keep the Fire Burning, Blak, Loud and Proud

With NAIDOC Week 2024 celebrating the theme ‘Keep the Fire Burning, Blak, Loud and Proud’, Sharna reflected on what this means for her and the future of Kooya.

“Blak, loud and proud really encapsulates, the celebration of our unwavering commitment of our communities.

“It’s an unapologetic celebration of Aboriginal identity, empowering us to stand tall in our heritage and to assert our place in this world,” Sharna said.

Participants at the Katitjiny Boya Birrit Indigenous business workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs, another worthy project that the Bibbulmun Fund supported.

Backing Kooya

NAB is proud to be backing Indigenous businesses like Kooya and working with people like Kim and Sharna who have aspirations for their business to grow.

 

Noel Prakash, NAB Executive, Indigenous Business Banking, leads the team of specialist Indigenous bankers across the country and believes their unique skills help businesses like Kooya flourish.

“We have a team of bankers across the country who have extensive experience in the Indigenous business sector and a passion to see their customers do well.

“When we partner with our customers, we work really hard on understanding the cultural intricacies so we can be a cultural bridge between Indigenous businesses and NAB.

“Having known Kim for a number of years and seeing what he’s put in to Kooya and the Bibbulmun Fund, I’m extremely proud of his efforts being recognised as West Australian of the Year and his NAIDOC Week Award. He’s a testament to what Indigenous businesses can achieve,” Mr Prakash said.

Watch the profile of Kooya Group Companies below.

 

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