For the past five years, SSI Ignite Small Business Start-ups and University of Wollongong (UOW) have worked together to support entrepreneurs from refugee backgrounds grow their businesses, while providing students with course-related experience.
Master of Business students at UOW are currently undertaking two new research projects as part of their internship. The first focuses on Addison Road Street Food Markets and looks at ways to boost its operations, while the second aims to deliver a strategic plan that Ignite and IgniteAbility can use to expand and sustain the initiative’s resource team. The collaboration is a win-win for all involved.
“Students get to experience a real industry-based business problem which they need to research and develop recommendations for, that will help the business reach the required goals and aims,” said Zeynep Roberts, Course Coordinator and Lecturer at UOW.
“This enables the students to put into practice the theoretical knowledge they have been learning in their Master of Business program into a practical, real-life business situation.”
These research projects help students hone skills including application of knowledge, communication and effective report writing, critical and strategic thinking, and using effective research methods to solve business problems.
Objectives for the Addison Road Street Food Markets include increasing the number of attendees and ensuring that the market is set up to trade in all weather conditions.
Project researchers aim to devise a plan to help Ignite and IgniteAbility expand their resource team and improve staff retention rates to ensure consistency for Ignite’s client base. Research projects are scheduled for completion by mid-April 2018, with reports due the following week.
“Working with our industry partners opens the door for employment opportunities for students,” Ms Roberts said.
“The industry partners also benefit from students’ recommendations and the knowledge they gather around a particular topic area. It also enables our industry partners to build stronger association with UOW for future project initiatives.”
The thriving partnership between Ignite and UOW is positioned to accelerate from strength to strength. Ignite Program Manager Dina Petrakis explained that once internships were complete, students were often keen to continue their involvement with Ignite.
“Many of the students who do their placements with us go on to become volunteers on our program, they want to continue helping our entrepreneurs,” she said.
“UOW's support has been instrumental in helping the establishment of a variety of small business start-ups.”