Territorian and Charles Darwin University (CDU) student Ben Tyler is inspiring his mob and other First Nations businesses to reclaim the native food industry in Australia with his business endeavour, Kakadu Kitchen.
Mr Tyler grew up on his Mother, Jessie Alderson’s Murumburr country in central Kakadu learning about Bininj culture and bush foods from his Kakadu family.
The Bininj entrepreneur founded bush food brand Kakadu Kitchen in 2017 after being inspired by observing what was on his Mum’s community kitchen table.
By drawing inspiration from bush tucker, local community garden produce and commercial retail products – the idea of creating healthy products that champion local produce and bush food was born.
Mr Tyler has since experimented over the years with combining native ingredients foraged from the 20,000 square kilometre tropical food garden kitchen that is Kakadu.
Currently, Kakadu Kitchen is developing a range of products including Kakadu bush tucker infused alcohol-free spirits in collaboration with Willing Distillery and a range of First Nations branded bottled waters in collaboration with Refresh Darwin with support from Kakadu Tourism.
The Kakadu Kitchen Spring Water range is sourced from Acacia Hills on beautiful Wulna country. The water range is available at the Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru and Cooinda Lodge in Kakadu, and Adina Vibe Darwin Waterfront.
Always looking to fill knowledge gaps to help his business succeed, Mr Tyler is studying a Bachelor of Business at CDU, majoring in both International Management and Logistics and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“The course is teaching me different things at different times like pitching a business concept in entrepreneurship to basics in marketing,” Mr Tyler said.
“I loved the whole process of learning how to pitch, working on business models, figuring out solutions to problems—they’re all really helpful skills to have in business.
“I have also developed business plans for the future and the course has helped to connect me with important mentors and growth experts to help me achieve my business goals.”
Mentors like Mr Tyler’s lecturer, Ulrike, have helped Mr Tyler shape his business and provided real life business learnings and application beyond the classroom environment.
Mr Tyler has grand plans to establish Kakadu Kitchen’s alcohol-free distillery in Darwin and next year and develop scalable and sustainable vertical farms to help communities grow bush tucker on country or anywhere in the world.
CDU Entrepreneurship Lecturer and Course Coordinator for the Bachelor of Business Dr Ulrike Kachel said Ben’s story is an inspiration to all students looking to start their own business.
“When he joined my entrepreneurship unit in his first semester, it quickly became evident that when it comes to start-up ideas, he was very creative and innovative,” Dr Kachel said.
“Ben is a role model not just for his community but also for other students and I feel privileged to be able to provide some business mentoring.”
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation major is one of three majors in CDU’s Bachelor of Business program. F