University of Wollongong students helping entrepreneurial refugees

BUDDING ENTRPRENEURS: University of Wollongong students Shazy Sahrulazizi, Ariff Bahar and Chen Hu are helping entrepreneurial refugees. Picture: Supplied
BUDDING ENTRPRENEURS: University of Wollongong students Shazy Sahrulazizi, Ariff Bahar and Chen Hu are helping entrepreneurial refugees. Picture: Supplied

Shazy Sahrulazizi, Ariff Bahar and Chen Hu have found a way to stand out from their fellow University of Wollongong final year students.

They are using the knowledge gained from their studies in commerce to help people of migrant and refugee background start their own business.

The trio are interning with Ignite Small Business Start-ups (Ignite) — an initiative delivered by Settlement Services International (SSI) that facilitates business creation for people of migrant and refugee background.

The three students have supported several Ignite entrepreneurs, including Yarrie Bangura from Sierra Leone, who sells a handmade bottled ginger drink, and Iman Tajrishi and his team, who provide lighting and signage solutions.

UOW business liaison manager Sandy Haig said UOW students from the Faculty of Business have for the past two years worked with Ignite to support entrepreneurs of refugee background and seeking asylum to start or expand their own business.

‘’Undertaking an internship with Ignite provides them with the opportunity to face professional challenges that any businessperson or entrepreneur has to deal with, making them more work-ready and ultimately more employable,’’ Ms Haig said.

That was the case for Ms Sahrulazizi, who took on the internship to improve her own long-term employment prospects.

‘’From the moment we started university, teachers had been telling us how competitive the working market is and how important it is to have something that differentiates your resume from the rest,’’ she said.

‘’Also, during our internship at Ignite we’ve learned that refugees don’t just arrive in Australia and sit down, waiting to be offered help. They work very hard and in many cases, like the ones supported by Ignite, they contribute very positively to the economy.’’

Mr Bahar on the other hand chose to do his internship after being offered a few possibilities by the university student placement office.

‘’We’ve helped some of the clients here at Ignite to create business, marketing and finance plans for their projects,’’ he said.

‘’It’s been far more challenging than any other subject I had done before, but I enjoyed every minute of it.’’

Ignite coordinator Dina Pertarkis said having the UOW’s Business Internship Program on the Resource Team has been extremely positive for both parties.