Multicultural business program promises fresh start

Newcastle City Council is providing a 10-week business skills course for refugees and migrants who are interested in starting a small business in the area.

Software developers, aspiring restaurateurs and a tailor were among the enthusiastic enrolments at the recent launch of the Multicultural Small Business Program.

Twenty aspiring businessmen and women from 10 different countries of origin 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, would be 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,” the Lord Mayor 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 Chief Executive Officer Hakan Harman attended the 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.”

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 Australian Small Business Advisory Services (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.”