Media Releases

2017 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Award winner calls for corporate Australia to look to the not-for-profit sector to find the innovative solutions it needs to address workforce shortages and inspire entrepreneurial thinking. 

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI), who won the 2017 Telstra NSW for Purpose and Social Enterprise Award, said her organisation, which she has grown in revenue from $9m to $110m in only four years, is built on an entrepreneurial spirit that has led to innovative approaches to supporting migrants, people seeking asylum and refugees start businesses, join large corporations and fill important gaps in the workforce.

Recognised for her social entrepreneurship and raising awareness of the economic value of migration, Roumeliotis is the brains behind various initiatives that have seen companies such as Allianz Australia run employment programs, as well establishing Australia’s first bespoke refugee entrepreneurship initiative, Ignite Small Business Start-ups (Ignite).

“The not-for-profit sector is thriving with social entrepreneurs, driven by passion and determination. Many would be surprised to know just how effective community organisations are at developing world-class initiatives that address key social challenges and provide a win-win for business and community.

“Settlement Services International works in partnership with leading corporations to implement ground-breaking Sustainable Employment Programs that support refugees and migrants entering the workforce and providing business with rich talent. 

“Eighteen refugees and migrants with existing skills and qualifications who were matched to Allianz’s business need, embarked on a 12-month program that includes two job rotations in areas such as marketing, claims, finance and IT.

“The mutual success of the Settlement Services International-Allianz partnership has been recognised by Australian Human Rights Commission as a finalist in the Human Rights Awards 2017.

“In only four years, our award-winning small business start-up program, Ignite, has supported 90 participants to financial independence and developed over 45 jobs. This saves an estimated $1.8 million in Centrelink payments each year.

“I call for leaders from across corporate Australia to look at the innovation and commercial impact of the work of the not for profit sector. We want more partnerships, so we can expand our reach and help to solve commercial and social challenges of Australia,” said Roumeliotis.

Roumeliotis will compete for Telstra Australian Business Women of the Year: Purpose and Social Enterprise Award at the national ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday 21 November 2017.


Media enquiries:

SSI Communications Coordinator Hannah Gartrell 0488 680 287 

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