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17 Sep 2019


Former refugee and Ignite® entrepreneur empowers audiences at TEDxSydney


SSI Ignite® entrepreneur Hedayat Osyan giving a TED talk at the recent TEDxSydney 2019 conference.

Hedayat Osyan, a speaker at TEDxSydney 2019, held in May at the International Convention Centre, was part of SSI’s Pay it Forward contingent at TEDxSydney 2018.

“Pay It Forward” is a key component of the partnership between TEDx and SSI, the official community partner for TEDxSydney. Conference registrants give community members from a wide range of SSI programs — including disability services, refugee resettlement, multicultural foster care, and startups — the opportunity to attend the conference for free.

Pay it Forward has a positive, naturally occurring domino effect. The receiver of a good deed repays it to others instead of to the original benefactor and asks their recipients to do the same. That means one good deed or act of kindness can have ripples felt far and wide beyond its starting point.

That is certainly true of Mr Osyan, a 27-year-old former refugee from Afghanistan and an SSI Ignite® Small Business Start-ups entrepreneur who founded a tiling company to support fellow refugees to establish their new lives in Australia.

Mr Osyan was so inspired by his 2018 TEDx experience that he took part in one of the 2019 pitch nights and finally spoke at the main event, where his message around welcoming refugees reached an audience of 5,000 people.

Since Mr Osyan came to Australia in 2010, his passion for pairing social responsibility and entrepreneurship has been significant. After graduating with a bachelor degree in politics and international relations and an honours degree from the University of Canberra, he worked as a youth consultant for the Cumberland Council, MYAN NSW and Community Migrant Resource Centre.

As the passionate founder and managing director of social enterprise Nick Tiling Services, Mr Osyan harnesses his lived experience and trains, employs and supports other refugees and asylum seekers.

Mr Osyan said that his “main goal” was “to help [refugees] become independent and empower them”.

A man giving a TED talk.

Former refugee Hedayat Osyan is the passionate founder of a social enterprise that employs other refugees and asylum seekers.

A recent testament to his dedication to the cause was his selection as Young Social Pioneer by Foundation for Young Australians in 2018 and First Gens Accelerator by ygap in 2019.

Diversity and disability peer facilitator and mentor Pauline David is another community member that attended the conference as part of the SSI cohort.

As someone from an Assyrian background who has lived with a physical disability from birth, Ms David has experienced social, cultural and structural related barriers her whole life and now advocates for improved accessibility for herself and others.

“Through sharing my story, I hope to challenge perceptions, attitudes and stigmas to help improve community access for people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds,” Ms David said.

“Attending the TEDxSydney conference helped inspire some new ideas for my advocacy work,” Ms David said.

TEDxSydney Founder and Licensee Remo Giuffré said that TEDxSydney was thrilled to be able to give SSI program participants a unique learning experience through the Pay it Forward initiative.

“At the core of TEDxSydney, we aim to create a connected community, and it’s great to be able to collaborate with SSI and bring the two communities together,” Mr Giuffré said.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said that the collaboration between the two organisations took a fresh approach in encouraging the broader community to get involved and support marginalised communities to attend a high-profile event.

“Through this wonderful partnership, we’re able to provide a seamless way for the wider community to give back to those people who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to attend a TEDxSydney conference,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

“SSI appreciates the ongoing support and generosity of TEDxSydney and its members, who are empowering people to change their lives through direct exposure to myriad brilliant speakers and thought-provoking conversation.”


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