The Multicultural Business Connect Conference and Expo brought together migrant and refugee small business owners, politicians and community leaders at the ParkRoyal Parramatta. Attendees heard success stories, received practical tips from migrants who have shared the same experience and had the opportunity to network with other small business owners.
Melissa Monteiro, CEO of CMRC spoke of the important contributions of migrant small business owners and recognising their wins, “Small businesses are key to the NSW economy, they provide employment to locals, creating wealth and benefits for all australians. Australia has over 2.7 million small businesses, with migrant communities making up a substantial portion of this.
Today we want to acknowledge those business owners, to acknowledge their hard work, successes and their contribution to the local community and Australian economy.”
The life experience of migrants gives them a certain advantage in owning and successfully running their own business. CMRC Board Member, Thevon Krishna said “Entrepreneurship today is the development of a business from the ground up, most people in their lifetime have dreamt of opening up a business, but they put it in the too hard basket, get a normal 9-5 job, perhaps get a promotion and then retire with a regular pension.
Yet for many migrants who come here, because of the struggles they have faced through the migrant experience they persevere, they accept the challenges, they don’t put it in the too hard basket because they have gone through hardship.”
Thevon also spoke to the need for events like the Multicultural Business Connect Conference and Expo, “These kind of conferences help business owners network and realise they are not alone in their struggle,, that their are other migrant small businesses who go through the same difficulties and challenges.”
Federal Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens MP encouraged migrants to not take for granted the unique advantages they have over their Australian born counterparts. “I walk through my community, I go to events and I see the stuff you take for granted and I think, I can make a fortune from that, and it frustrates me at times.”
I see Vietnamese satay chilli being sold by young boys in Cabramatta, but they limit themselves by selling to just their own communities. I see people wearing little clips on their saris, women who wear these patterned skirts, and so on. These obvious things, you don’t know how valuable these are, you have problem solving capacities that are profoundly different to mine and perhaps better. I want to see communities appreciate the value they bring, and to capitalize on that by opening up to other communities.”
Karen Ballantyne, a senior manager at the NSW Department of Industry’s gave a statistical breakdown of the invaluable contribution of migrant small businesses to the NSW economy, “NSW is one of Australia’s most diverse states, 21% of our population come from non English speaking backgrounds. Small businesses are the engine room of NSW economy, 98% of all NSW businesses are small businesses and 32% of small business operators are born overseas. Often multicultural businesses outperform their Australian born counterparts in terms of being innovative and creating jobs.”
Karen also spoke of the willingness of the NSW Government to drive Small Business growth, and the opportunities this presents to migrants and refugees. “The NSW government has many grants and incentives set in place to assist small business, so I suggest speaking with Small Business Advisors, like CMRC’s Business Connect team, to help you assist in accessing all the incentives that the NSW government provides for small businesses.
By way of example our Skilled Migration Program assisted 703 migrants, entrepreneurs and small businesses to successfully move to NSW to start up their enterprises.”
Keynote speaker and founder of Dreem Consulting Reem Borrows encouraged a change in perspective among business owners, for them to celebrate and take pride in the journey rather than just focusing on the goal. “Starting and running your own enterprise is hard work, and we need to celebrate the grind, that’s what gets us there. Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal or ideal. It’s not really about the goal, about reaching that goal, but about the work that gets us there, that should keep us going, we should celebrate those struggles, and that’ll keep us moving.”
CMRC would like to acknowledge:
Speakers and Panellists
Melissa Monteiro - CEO, Community Migrant Resource Centre
Thevan Krishna - Marketing Director, UGO Transfers Pty Ltd.
Julie Owens, MP - Federal Member for Parramatta
Karen Ballantyne - Senior Program Manager, The Department of Industry
Reem Borrows - Founder of Dreem Consulting, Executive Coach
David Borger - Director, Western Sydney Business Chamber
Sarah Morgan - The Alternative Board
Sue Ho - President, Overseas Korean Trading Association
Kerim Elgabili - Director, OnePoint
Vicki Zhou - Chairperson, Hills Chinese Business Association
Cuong Hoang - Founder, Next Layer Pty Ltd.
Dominca Nelson - Director, Business & Skilled Migration
Tony Stephens - Client Management, Jobs for NSW (Sydney Start-Up Hub)
Reynah Fernandes - Director, Smart Talent Group
Ruchir Pandey - Small Business, ANZ
Australian Ruliball Cultural Association
The Academy K-Pop