Shazy Sahrulazizi, Ariff Bahar and Chen Hu are all final year students of the Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong. As do many of their peers, they juggle classes, study, group assignments and extra-curricular activities, trying to fit everything into their busy schedules.
However, these three budding businesspeople have chosen to dedicate part of their spare time to something that makes them stand out from the crowd. They are using the knowledge gained from their degree to help people of migrant and refugee background start their own business by interning for Ignite Small Business Start-ups.
Ignite is an SSI initiative that facilitates business creation for people of migrant and refugee background who are keen to establish a small business or expand an existing one.
“From the moment we started university, teachers had been telling us how competitive the working market is and how important it is to have something that differentiates your resume from the rest,” Ms Sahrulazizi said.
“So, doing an internship wasn’t compulsory, but I decided to do it in order to get a good job.”
Mr Bahar, from Miranda, had an interest in the not-for-profit sector and chose to do his internship at Ignite after being offered a few possibilities by the university student placement office, he said.
“We’ve helped some of the clients here at Ignite to create business, marketing and finance plans for their projects,” Mr Bahar said. “It’s been far more challenging than any other subject I had done before, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
For Mr Hu, an international student from China, interning at Ignite has also been an opportunity to learn about Australian workplace culture and get local experience, he said.
The three students have supported several Ignite entrepreneurs, including Yarrie Bangura from Sierra Leone who sells a handmade bottled ginger drink to Iman and his team, who provide lighting and signage solutions.
“Interning at Ignite has been a great opportunity for all of us,” Ms Sahrulazizi said. “Besides learning the ins and outs of how businesses operate, we’ve also learned about the passion one needs and the struggles to overcome to be successful in establishing your own business.”
“Also, during our internship at Ignite we’ve learned that refugees don’t just arrive in Australia and sit down, waiting to be offered help. They work very hard and in many cases, like the ones supported by Ignite, they contribute very positively to the economy.”