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Refugee entrepreneurs honoured

14 November 20160 comments

Refugees from Iran and Vietnam were among the winners in this year’s Ethnic Business Awards.

Broadband Solutions, a company headed by Iranian refugee Sam Bashiry, won the major award in the medium to large business category.

Mr Bashiry fled conflict and destruction in his homeland when he fled with his mother and sister at age 10.

ethnic-business-awards_thumbnailSafe on Australian soil, they spent two years inside a detention centre before resuming their life.

Mr Bashiry was determined to study and eventually gained a degree in Computer Science. He started his working career as an employee at an IT help desk before venturing into his own business.

He turned a $1,000 ambition into a multi-million dollar business in just 10 years.

Vietnamese refugee Diem Fuggersberger and her company Berger Ingredients Pty Ltd, took out the award in the small business category.

Ms Fuggersberger was just seven when she and her family fled Vietnam. The family spent 15 months in a refugee camp – an experience that Diem says made her stronger and more determined.

After losing their business in the 2009 Global Financial Crisis, Ms Fuggersberger and her husband started again and formed Berger Ingredients producing spice blends, sauces and marinades.

The company now employs 30 staff and supply major supermarket chains across Australia.

The awards founder, Joseph Assaf AM, told the audience at the gala awards ceremony in Melbourne last month that it was important to recognise the contributions migrants and refugees made to Australia.

“Tonight we’ve had the privilege of celebrating the cultural, social and economic contributions made to this country of ours by hundreds of inspiring people – people who have for so many different reasons chosen to make Australia their home,” he said.

“Whether they’ve come here as skilled workers, business migrants, or refugees – as two of our winners this year; whether they’re fleeing war or oppression or have come as sponsored migrants, or simply to be reunited with family; they all – each and every one of them in their unique ways – have made a difference.” Mr Assaf said.

“Likewise, those recognised in our Indigenous Business category have often had to struggle against enormous hardships and challenges to achieve their marvellous success,” he said.

Guests included Julie Bishop, representing The Prime Minister, Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke, along with several parliamentary colleagues.

Also present were leaders from the fields of business, media, and the community sector.

The Ethnic Business Awards, now in their 28th year, celebrate diversity and multiculturalism, and the achievements of migrants who come to Australia with a “suitcase full of dreams”.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist