Twenty aspiring businesspeople from 10 different countries have graduated from a small business skills course run by Newcastle City Council.
Graduates of the Multicultural Small Business Program gathered at Newcastle Museum today to celebrate the prospect of running their own business.
With the support of Council, Navitas English, Northern Settlement Services and volunteer mentors, The Business Centre hosted a 10-week course to familiarise participants with Australian business regulations in classes taught in English and Arabic.
"I am so proud to congratulate the migrants and refugees who completed the course in its first year," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"The aim was to familiarise aspiring business people with Australian regulations and customs and help fast track financial independence for them and their families.
"Many of the participants had successful careers back in the countries they came from, and the lessons they've gained in business planning, financial management and marketing will help them prosper here in Newcastle."
The inaugural 10-week program included workshops, business advisory sessions, networking opportunities and access to mentors from the local migrant business community.
Participants, among them aspiring restaurateurs and a tailor, learned how to set up a business, meet legal requirements and included basic instruction in marketing, financial planning, budgeting, taxation and entitlements.
A number of the course participants catered for today's event graduation.
Hospitality-focused members of the class put their new skills to use by lodging quotes with council for the right to cater for today's event.
Much to the pleasure of attendees, the menu included delicious African and Middle Eastern fare: Samosa, Baklava and a refreshing hibiscus drink.
Senegalese woman Mai Camara with her delicious hibiscus drink and business partner in Wild Flavours Senegalese food & drinks, Sarah Mane.
The Multicultural Small Business Program follows another initiative by Council last year to teach Syrian refugees how to bicycle safely in Australia.
Newcastle City Council teamed up with CatholicCare and other support agencies to teach refugees how to ride on local streets.