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27 Feb 2018


Ignite helps Iranian refugee forge new career path

Saman Khaladj launched his own business with the support of the SSI Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative.

In his home country of Iran, Mr Khaladj had worked in industrial management but found it difficult to obtain similar work in Australia. A love of building and making things led him to a new career in carpentry, and, eventually, the launch of his own business in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“My job in Iran involved building factories from the ground up. In my home country, there are lots of production companies. When I came to Australia, I worked as a carpenter for two different companies, learning about timberworks. I left and started my own small business,” Mr Khaladj said.

Mr Khaladj’s caseworker at the time referred him to Ben Benazzouz, a senior facilitator at Ignite.

“Ben was very helpful, he is a good man – he even helped me get one of my clients,” he said.

“He understood that I didn’t want to be employed, I wanted to run my own business and employ people myself.”

Currently Mr Khaladj employs up to six people for any one project and says two of his contractors have been working with him since the very beginning.

“I try to keep the projects coming, because I want to keep my workers on. I try to make sure I always have work for them,” he said.

“Making a house, you’re creating something, building something. Mostly the carpentry jobs I do involve a lot of thought. I like complex projects, I don’t like to make simple things. And I really enjoy my work.”

In addition to his busy workload, Mr Khaladj has also been studying a Cert IV in Building and Construction at TAFE.

“I have been studying two to three days a week online. It’s tough but for people like me who are working it’s the best option. The course takes around 18 months to complete but I hope to finish it in around 12.” he said.

Having called Australia home for the past few years, what does he enjoy most about life here?

“Maybe freedom and democracy,” he said.

“Also everywhere you go the sky is always blue – but here the blue is different somehow. Everything is good, except that maybe labour is very high for people like me!”

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