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Bama Building Momentum

Since starting in 2010 as a small building and landscaping business, Cairns-based Bama Services has scaled into a competitive player in North Queensland’s civil construction and asset maintenance markets. This year, it became the first Westpac Foundation grant partner to tap into a new finance structure to support its next phase of growth.


As the Indigenous-owned social enterprise has been propelled by winning a number of big contracts for road upgrades, landscaping and other works, it has stuck fast to its founding mission: to create jobs and training opportunities for Indigenous people in the local region.


“The wellbeing of our staff and their families is of paramount importance,” says Will Grayson, general manager of Bama, an entity of the Cape York Partnership. “We take a holistic view of each team member and help them to reach their full potential and achieve stable, healthy lives at home. As a result, we have a highly skilled workforce delivering on big projects, while empowering individuals to achieve their professional and personal goals.”


To date, more than 280 employees have benefited from Bama’s award-winning approach, many going on to secure traineeships throughout the civil and landscape construction industries.


Westpac Foundation has been there from the beginning, providing Bama more than $1.39M in grants and non-financial support to help it scale since its initial seed funding more than 13 years ago.


Grayson says as Bama sets its sights on its next push for growth, it’s reached a level of maturity that requires a finance injection beyond the philanthropic funding that’s supported it to date – yet, for social enterprises, the transition to mainstream business lending is historically difficult.


“It’s challenging for businesses like ours to access mainstream finance to fund growth because we don’t have the typical trading profile or track record of a traditional construction business that banks look for,” he says. “But given we’ve had such a long-term partnership with Westpac Foundation, and that’s given us access to people who have helped us meet robust due diligence, it’s opened the door to a funding structure that has the potential to help us overcome access to mainstream finance.”


Under the new proposed lending structure, Westpac Foundation aims to act as a guarantor for Bama to take on a business loan from Westpac. The proposed guarantee will help secure the loan and reduce its cost, enabling Bama to create more job opportunities for Indigenous Australians.


Westpac Foundation’s CEO Amy Lyden says Bama is a wonderful example of what the Westpac Foundation ultimately aims for. “Helping transition social enterprises to become sustainable in their own right to confidently qualify for mainstream lending products to support their growth can help those businesses create more employment pathways,” she says.


Read our 2023 Impact Report (PDF 7MB) to find out more about our Westpac Foundation partners, like Bama who are making a difference in their local communities and how we are building a better tomorrow, together.