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Refugee entrepreneurs supported to ‘thrive’

26 October 20200 comments

The phrase ‘quiet achiever’ may have never been more appropriate than when applied to a small micro finance outfit that is doing big things when it comes to supporting refugees to start their own businesses.

More than 170 refugee businesses have received loans from not-for-profit finance provider ‘Thrive’ over the past two years.

Established with the vital financial backing of Westpac, private donors and the generous support of leading companies such as Allianz, Deloitte, Gilbert & Tobin, KPMG, Korn Ferry, LOUD, Newgate and Equifax, Thrive, is registered as a charity with tax-deductible status for donations.

Thrive Chairman Huy Truong said the organisation had been created to support refugees and asylum seekers start their own businesses.

“As a result, they create self-employment, become financially independent and integrate faster and more successfully as active contributors to our society and economy,” Mr Truong said.

“The economic impact has been significant with the double benefit of reduced welfare payments and taxes being paid. In addition to the economic benefit has been the social benefit that arises with developing a network of customers, suppliers and other local businesses.

“We are able to provide these refugees support because of the generous aid from our strategic partners, volunteers and private donors. Their pro bono and financial support for refugees have enabled Thrive to create a system which lets us assist these entrepreneurs as they navigate through the complex and challenging path of starting, managing and sustaining a business,” he said.

“At Thrive, we don’t see our clients as asylum seekers and refugees in Australia – we see them as our next entrepreneurs. Because even though they may arrive with just the clothes on their backs, they rarely arrive empty-handed: they bring with them a wealth of experience, skills, innovative ideas and the motivation to build fulfilling lives and livelihoods in a safe country.

“Thrive helps them realise their dreams by providing small business loans and support that enable them to start and grow successful businesses and become financially independent, while actively contributing to Australia’s economy and community life,” Mr Truong said.

Among the entrepreneurs Thrive has supported is Soheil Ettehadolhagh, who came to Australia from Iran almost four years ago with a dream to work in photography.

His biggest challenges were the language barrier and new culture he had to adjust to coming from so far away.

He approached Thrive to start his business, UniPic Photography, for help financially and also for business advice.

Thrive was very supportive and quick to respond to any of his queries and gave him the business model he needed to be able to run his business effectively.

 Soheil now runs UniPic Photography and his clientele are growing steadily month by month.

Saeed Zarinkob came to Australia from Iran with his young family in 2012.

He began his entrepenurial journey by baking at home for his community.

Within a few short years, he opened up a small bakery in Liverpool, NSW to continue following his passion.

 The biggest difficulties he faced were the language barriers between himself and the locals as well the differences in running a business in Iran compared with Australia.

Thrive stepped in and helped Saeed not only financially but also to successfully integrate into the Australian business model.

Thrive helped him get the certification and documents he needed to run his business successfully and happily helped finance the growth of his business.