Yaru Water has created Australia’s first Indigenous bottled water. The water is sourced from the foothills of the Wollumbin, an ancient volcano that last erupted many millennia ago. Wollumbin, also known as Mount Warning, rises out of the rainforests in the heart of Bundjalung country in the Tweed-Byron region of Northern NSW. The products are certified carbon neutral, so all emissions created during the lifecycle of a bottle of Yaru Water are removed. The team at Yaru are driven by a strong community development focus, and a commitment to making an ongoing contribution to “closing the gap” on disadvantage in Indigenous communities.
The Accor Group began with only one hotel in 1967, now the brand comprises over 4000 hotels in 90 countries. They offer budget through to luxury options, and throughout Australia there are 159 Accor Hotels. The Sofitel is a luxury French hotel brand, and is part of the wider Accor Group. There are 130 Sofitel hotels located in 40 different countries worldwide.
Last year, the Sofitel at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast began stocking Yaru Water in its boardrooms, mini-bars and restaurants. General Manager Amery Burleigh came across Yaru Water at the Supply Nation Connect 2012 tradeshow: “We were looking for opportunities within the Indigenous community, and we specifically needed a water for Sofitel. As a luxury brand, we were after something special for our guests. We met Kyle Slabb (Director of Yaru Water) and listened to him tell the story. We were sold – it’s perfect for what we’re doing.”
“We use it in our best meeting spaces, all of our restaurants, as our VIP amenities, in the mini-bar… It’s a great product and should be in every boardroom in Australia.”
Kyle is thrilled with the partnership: “Water is life for everybody, and part of Yaru is that we want to share that life, and that understanding of what the earth has. The geology is very special, adding to the healing properties of the water. In our cultural stories it’s very significant.”
The partnership with Accor Group has had an enormous impact on the Bundjalung community. Kyle says: “It’s given us real credibility in the market, and it speaks about where they are heading as a corporation. Our success has inspired a lot of young Indigenous leaders and business people. To say that an Indigenous product and business can be well accepted in the corporate world is really important to us. It has really been an inspiration for those young guys that have dreams of their own, and hopes for the future.”
Ms Burleigh is equally as pleased with the outcome of working with the Yaru team: “They’ve been appreciative of the doors we’ve opened for them, and in return they have opened the doors for us; to their community. They’ve been proactive in response, their supply is fantastic, and if we have VIPs and we want to do a welcome to country, they are happy to help. It’s not just the product we receive, but the engagement of the community.”
How Supply Nation was able to help
“Supply Nation was the connection for us; it was the critical thing. As an Indigenous business, we may be in our own world, but there is a whole other world out there – a corporate world – and you need to be connected” says Kyle.
Ms Burleigh agrees: “By being certified, it’s opened up doors for these Indigenous businesses to be recognised as saying, ‘we’re ready to do business with the big corporates.’ Yaru water is a perfect example of that.”