SSI News Blog

SSI celebrated its annual fundraising event — the SSI Mosaic Gala — at the glamorous Merivale Ivy Ballroom on September 14, with entertainment by Lucky African Drum and Sirens Dance, guest speaker Matt Okine and the announcement of winners of the Ignite Multicultural Women’s Business Scholarship.

 A group of women at an event.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis and SSI Ignite Global Manager with Ignite Multicultural Women’s Business Scholarship winners.

The Mosaic Gala raises funds to support two SSI refugee programs —Ignite Small Business Start-ups and Refugee Scholarships — while raising awareness of SSI’s work with refugees, focusing on education and employment as a pathway to inclusion, independence and success after settling in a new country.

A highlight of the gala was the announcement of the four recipients of the Ignite Multicultural Women’s Business Scholarships — a 12-month package of support open to women of all ages from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, residing in the Greater Sydney Area and who have a business idea for a product or service.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said that the initiative was close to her heart.

“Every day in my work I see the strength, courage and entrepreneurialism of women — I am driven to create an ecosystem of support around them so they, too, can benefit from living in the best country in the world and aspire to reach their full potential, she said.”

“As part of being named the Australian Telstra Business Woman of the Year, I wanted to lead by example and reach out to help other women succeed. That is why SSI has established the Multicultural Business Women’s Scholarships.”

Over 35 expressions of interest were received for the inaugural round of scholarships, and the independent judging panel said it had a tough job deciding on the four winners: Parastoo Bahrami from Afghanistan, Merlyn Hernandez from Venezuela, Lorina Leauanae from Samoa and Nanor Wanesian from Syria.

The fledgling businesses ranged from jewellery design to cake decoration, plus-sized fashion and a dance studio.

The 12-month package of professional and specialised support is valued at $20,000 and includes business facilitation and mentorship from the team of experts at Ignite.

Success stories

SSI Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Hitchcock OAM

SSI volunteer Maria Hitchcock is no stranger to a worthy cause, or the challenges of coming to a new country. Having come to Australia at the age of three from post war Europe, she recalls her own family’s journey while she works with the newcomers to the Armidale community.

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