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A new SSI partnership operating nation-wide will help entrepreneurs from refugee backgrounds fast-track their business plans and achieve their goal of establishing a successful business in Australia.

SSI has partnered with Thrive Refugee Enterprise, which aims to support the entrepreneurial spirit of refugees by providing microfinancing and mentoring support to aspiring business owners from refugee backgrounds.

Eligible applicants can access loans for resources and tools, in addition to a range of support with education and professional accreditation.

As part of the new partnership, SSI will put forward eligible applicants and provide Thrive with a range of administration support. SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis sits on the charity’s Board as a founding director.

"ABS figures* show refugees have the highest entrepreneurial potential of all streams in our migration program, but they face challenges in terms of experience and financial capital when starting their own business," Ms Roumeliotis said.

"Giving new arrivals access to financial business support earlier in the settlement process has a range of benefits. It supports refugees to integrate to the community, enables them to build on their entrepreneurial skills, and helps them to achieve economic independence while maximising their contribution to the economy."

Thrive was co-founded by a trio of business veterans: philanthropists John and Anna Curtis, and former refugee Huy Truong. Mr Curtis is currently chair of Allianz Australia and the former deputy chair of Westpac Banking and chair of St George bank, while Ms Curtis has been on the boards of IAG and Country Road. Experienced entrepreneur Mr Truong is currently CEO and co-owner of the Australian Life Insurance Group.

"This partnership is in line with SSI’s focus on nurturing entrepreneurial potential in the refugee community," Ms Roumeliotis said. "We have been pioneers in the space through the Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative, which facilitates small business creation for people from refugee background who want to start their own business or expand an existing one," Ms Roumeliotis said.

Initially, Thrive will operate in NSW and later Victoria with scope for a national rollout in the future to further support the economic contribution of refugee entrepreneurs across the country.

*Source: 3418.0 - Personal Income of Migrants, Australia, Experimental, 2009-10 www.abs.gov.au

Media enquiries:

SSI Communications Coordinator, Louise Wallace, 0488 680 255

SSI Communications Assistant, Hannah Gartrell, 0488 680 287

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