WA businesses on the global stage


Western Australia continues to take the lead as Australia’s largest export state, totalling nearly $140 billion, or 34.7% of Australia’s export trade in 2017-18.

And while the mining and resources sector dominates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across a range of industries are also playing a key role in building the state’s capabilities.  

However, one of the key challenges SMEs face as they take steps to grow their business is accessing the finance needed to enable this growth.

Two WA-based businesses that have overcome this challenge and are taking on global opportunities and seeing the benefits are Epichem and Oz Varieties.

Building IP through blueberries

Oz Varieties focuses on the commercialisation of their blueberry breeding program, developing new varieties of blueberries that thrive in new low chill environments around the world.

Founder Roger Horak explained that the business model is based on the intellectual property (IP) of the new varieties of blueberries that are being developed and sold on a royalty fee basis to blueberry farm operations around the world.

“Our main challenge has been how to increase our income stream from our fruit production to further invest in developing new blueberry varieties that will continue to bring royalty income to Australia,” explained Roger.

The business started looking at the latest machinery available that would substantially increase blueberry production output at their packing facility, enabling it to better meet the burgeoning demand for blueberries in its key markets and fund its plant breeding program. Unable to access finance through their usual channels they approached Export Finance Australia, Australia’s export credit agency.

The team at Export Finance Australia were fantastic. This type of solution needed thinking outside the box, Export Finance Australia was able to do that and provide a loan to help us finance two new sorting and packing machines for our production facility, said Roger.

“We’ve now taken our production efficiency from 70-80 per cent to as high as 98-99 per cent. There have been massive improvements that these machines have made.

“Without Export Finance Australia our business growth would have been severely impacted. Export Finance Australia’s help means we had the ability to improve our efficiencies and make the business that much more commercial. It’s been fantastic. We’re definitely planning to further our relationship,” said Roger.

Expanding through global growth

CEO of Epichem, Martine Keenan, explained that Epichem provides products and services to the drug discovery and pharmaceutical industries and enables the discovery and development of new drugs and to ensure the quality of existing ones.

Over 80% of the business’ revenue comes from an international client base made up of many well-known pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and research organisations.

For Epichem, increased orders from their international clients meant they needed a larger laboratory and more staff to be able to fulfil orders. Getting access to finance was the barrier but Export Finance Australia was able to provide Epichem with two loans to support their international growth.

Export Finance Australia’s support has been massively important to Epichem. With the first transaction we needed to leave our old premises and move to a new lab, so without Export Finance Australia’s support, we wouldn’t have had a business going forward.

 “The second loan has really enabled us to build up our capabilities and bid for work in a positive manner, rather than being concerned that we are taking on too much. We are now up to 28 people and running four key business areas on the back of having the additional facility from Export Finance Australia,” said Martine.


If you need finance to support your international business growth, talk to Export Finance Australia today on 1800 093 724.