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18 Jun 2019


Uyghur dancer preserves culture and starts up business in Australia


Dilnigar Alim posed in traditional Uyghur dress.

Now, with the support of SSI Ignite® Small Business Start-ups, Ms Alim has confidence that she can use her unique abilities to share her culture with her new home and build a successful business around traditional dance.

Ms Alim’s passion for the arts can be traced back to her childhood, being raised in a proud artistic Uyghur family in the region of East-Turkestan, also known as Xinjiang — an area tightly controlled by China.

The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the Central Asian region. The largest Uyghur population lives in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region, in the country’s north-west. They are also one of several persecuted Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Hui.

From 2000 to 2005 while in East-Turkistan, Ms Alim studied professional Uyghur dance and performance in Xinjiang Art Institution.

She continued to hone her skills as a dancer for a further four years working for Bing Tuan Music, Dance and Theatre Group until she arrived in Australia in 2019.

When she first arrived in Australia, Ms Alim was supported by SSI employee and Uyghur community member Zulfia Erk.

Ms Erk was quick to recognise Ms Alim’s ambition and talent and suggested she get involved in the Ignite® program.

“As a professional Uyghur dance performer who was not born in Australia, I find it very challenging to find opportunities to succeed,” Ms Alim said.

“But, with the support of Ignite®, I see a great future ahead.”

Ignite® taps into the existing skills, knowledge and experience that refugees bring and supports them to navigate and succeed in the complex Australian business environment.

Entrepreneurs are assisted by an Ignite® enterprise facilitator, who establishes a system of resource support around the entrepreneur, including industry experts, marketing professionals, financial managers and business mentors.

Ms Alim said that Ignite® provided her with opportunities but, more importantly, equipped her with insight into details to help start her business, including knowledge of the appropriate location for her business, an understanding of financial compliance and marketing best practice.

“Ignite® and its friendly staff members have been helping me a lot with my career goals and dreams over the past couple of years,” she said.

“There is nothing impossible to achieve when I have Ignite® standing right next to me throughout my journey.”

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