A Billion Opportunities for R2R Alliance

R2R Alliance dirtectors Richard Tester and Elsa Derschow talk about the involvement of their company in the Billion Opportunities program

Why did you form a joint venture?
Richard: We met through a mutual colleague and we both sat down and had a discussion about what would compliment each other. Elsa talked about her goals for training and mentoring Indigenous personnel and I was already working with Indigenous companies  on project management. The structure that we wanted to work with was basically to be able to bring those two together and to be able to offer an opportunity by providing project management and training and mentoring in one package. It’s a good model. Our next goal was to find a partner that actually complimented what we do, a third party that could take us to the next level.

And that is how you signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Resource Equipment Limited (REL).
Richard: It was hard for them because they had never done a joint venture to my knowledge, so there was a lot of uncertainties and probably in their eyes there was probably some risk. One of the benefits they could see was the Red Arrow side of things mitigate the risk for them because they didn’t know how to make sure the Indigenous companies perform and they didn't want to, from a culture point of view, step on anybody’s toes.

I've seen a lot of Indigenous companies and Indigenous joint ventures fail because of the fact that they just don't get the support at a project level. One of the things, especially working with Elsa, that was my main focus was to make sure the joint venture works for both parties.

How has Fortescue helped?
Richard: Fortescue are probably one of the key ones in regards to empowering small Indigenous businesses to be self-sufficient and get to the next level themselves. I've not seen that before at all. I've never seen it in any other mining company around the world to be able to do that. And I think to be able to get to a certain level, to stand alone, I think that's a huge feat and it's remarkable.
And you guys are obviously enjoy your work?

Elsa: Yeah I I love it. I was actually told by someone who had their own company: “You'll never be able to do what I can do. You'd never be able to compete with me.” And, as my parents would probably tell you, the wrong thing to tell me is that I can't do it, because here I am.
When we were awarded this contract, it took some time for it to sink in. I was driving home and it dawned on me that I'd been given this opportunity. I actually rang my mum and said, “Mum, for the first time in my life, I'm so proud of myself”.