HOST International officially opened its new office in Adelaide on 16th July, which was also the launch of HOST’s new programme, Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) – Community Capacity Building (CCB). It was a wonderful opportunity to promote the work of the programme and to introduce the HOST Adelaide team.

The evening allowed for both networking and guest speakers and was attended by approximately 50 invitees from a range of backgrounds. Those in attendance included CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community leaders, representatives from local government, leaders from the settlement, community and corporate sectors along with front line practitioners. HOST International’s CEO, David Keegan, spoke about HOST’s commitment to enabling new and emerging communities to prosper through the power of their own ideas. David also explained how this will be achieved through the establishment of an Emerging Communities Incubator to assist emerging communities to diagnose and resource responses to practical and broader capacity needs within their community through a coaching approach.

The first guest speaker of the evening was Andrew Burridge, Research Coordinator from the Centre for Policy Development and co-author of, the Seven Steps to SUCCESS: Enabling Refugee Entrepreneurs to Flourish report, from the Cities to Settlement initiative. The report draws on Australian and international best practice to outline policy recommendations to government, business and civil society on how to better support refugee entrepreneurs.

Andrew pointed out that while some promising ventures supporting refugee entrepreneurship exist, these are largely confined to Melbourne and Sydney, and are limited in scale and funding. Australia is only scratching the surface of what refugee entrepreneurs could achieve with appropriate investment and support.

Further to this Andrew indicated that this report was promoting the idea of an ambitious but achievable target of launching 1,000 new refugee-run businesses each year. Findings from the research indicated this could yield $98 million in annual economic and fiscal gains. Extending this out over ten years, this approach could see a boost to the economy could be nearly $1 billion a year. The social benefits would also be significant.

Andrew’s presentation was a segue to our next guest speaker, Anas Tadbeer, a former refugee and a local entrepreneur. Anas spoke about his firsthand experience of starting a small business in Adelaide. As a newcomer, Anas arrived in South Australia two years ago through Australia’s Humanitarian Program. Anas quickly put his entrepreneurial skills and experience to work, and in just under 18 months had opened Syrian Sweets, a dessert shop in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. Through the interviewing techniques and interpreting skills of HOST staff member Shahy Radwan, Anas shared his story. He illustrated how, despite the struggles of settling in a new country with a family, he has been able to employ five other locals from a range of cultural backgrounds. Much of the talk at the end of the night was how inspiring it was to hear that despite the many challenges of settling in a new country, Anas’s sheer determination enabled him to start a new business in a new country in such a short period of time.

It was also exciting to see so many front-line SA based settlement service providers and mainstream service providers in one room connecting with one another and committing to working together. The HOST launch enabled not just people in management positions to share, but also provided front-line workers an opportunity to learn from, and connect with, others. We look forward to HOST International having an impact in the refugee sector in South Australia and hopefully encouraging and providing more opportunities for collaboration and connection.

For more information on the SETS programme, please visit our website.