Class in for multicultural business program

15 Feb 2017

Syrian software developers, aspiring restaurateurs and a tailor were among enthusiastic enrolments at today's launch of a Multicultural Small Business Program.

Twenty aspiring businessmen and women from 10 different countries networked with business representatives at Newcastle City Hall ahead of the 10-week course organised by Newcastle City Council and partners.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Council, together with project partners The Business Centre, Navitas English, Northern Settlement Services and volunteer mentors, was running two parallel courses for refugees and migrants with strong English skills and another in Arabic.

"It's was my great pleasure to welcome participants and program partners at the launch of this fantastic program today," Councillor Nelmes said.

"The aim of the course is 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 before they left their countries, and the lessons they'll get in business planning, financial management and marketing will help them prosper here in Newcastle.

"Newcastle City Council's long-term vision is to become a thriving community where everyone is valued and able to contribute to our community; and the Multicultural Small Business Program will be a very constructive way to extend some help."

Multicultural NSW CEO Hakan Harman attended today's launch and praised Newcastle City Council and partners on the Multicultural Small Business Program. "For me to come to a city like Newcastle and see the leadership, outstanding multicultural plan and efforts to promote harmony, the future is very bright," Mr Harman said.

Aspiring restaurateur Zabiba Hamza, an Ethiopian refugee, told classmates more recent to Australia that the course would save them confusion.

"I have wanted to open my own catering business for quite a while now but I've not known where to start," Hamza said.

"We are all looking forward to learning the skills that go into making a successful business in Australia and I am sure many of us will go on to run successful businesses."

Northern Settlement Services Debbie Carstens with Zabiba Hamza.

Gordon Whitehead from The Business Centre said the program would cover a broad range of areas.

“The program will teach participants how to successfully set-up up a business and meet all necessary requirements, including legal, business structures, marketing, financial planning and budgeting, and tax obligations”, Gordon, an ASBAS Coordinator, said.

“The 10-week business education program comprises workshops, business advisory sessions and networking opportunities. Participants will also have access to mentors from the local migrant business community to assist them.”

Arabic speaker Anas Ezmigna, the owner of Zaaki's Express café in Mayfield West, will volunteer as a mentor during the course to help ensure the students don't "lose their money".

"Many of them think they can just rent a shop, open the door and start cooking because there are far fewer regulations in the countries they come from," Ezmigna, a qualified computer programmer who was born in Jordan, said.

"They don't know the regulations or anything about construction certificates, occupation certificates, taxation and employee entitlements like superannuation, and I will definitely be able to help them."

Anas Ezmigna at Zaaki Espresso in Mayfield

Also among the course participants are two software developers and a tailor from Syria as well as a compatriot interested in opening a Middle Eastern delicatessen in Newcastle.

The Multicultural Small Business Program follows another 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 recently arrived refugees how to ride on local streets.