From surviving to thriving: the young entrepreneur paving the way to better employment for refugees

From surviving to thriving: the young entrepreneur paving the way to better employment for refugees

Within the first six months of arriving in Australia only 6% of refugees successfully secure work, and within two years, this number increases just to 23% according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

For Hedayat Osyan, finding secure work after fleeing Afghanistan in 2009 took years — something he is now working hard to prevent for others through the creation of a social enterprise.   

In July 2017, Osyan founded Nick’s Tiling – a domestic and commercial tiling business focusing on provision of employment for refugees. Osyan and his business have been selected to participate in the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) 2018 Young Social Pioneers (YSP) program — an immersive incubator program for small businesses and initiatives making a social impact.

Nick’s Tiling provides on-the-job training to upskill employees in a trade, offers careers information, and supports navigating their rights at work. Workers also have access to English classes, an essential building block for a livelihood in Australia.

“When I arrived in Australia I wasn’t fluent in English — I had to teach myself. I searched for work while studying because I had to support my family back home. There weren’t many options for low-skilled work, so I took up construction because it was readily available.”

As a leader in the Hazara community, an ethnic minority from central Afghanistan, Osyan heard many similar experiences from other refugees.

“Many refugees I encounter have experienced racism, discrimination, and unpaid wages. Language barriers, a lack of access to local networks and communities, as well as lack of recognition for the skills and experience they might have had previously, is also ongoing problem for them.”

Since its establishment, Nick’s Tiling has employed fifteen workers. With the support of the YSP program, Osyan is hoping to access the capital, partners and networks to expand his business to Melbourne and Brisbane, growing his staff to approximately 50 employees. Providing opportunities for a “fresh start” is what drives him.

“Everyday I see the confidence of my staff growing. Now they can support their families, and have a better social position to resettle in Australia and contribute to the economy,” Osyan said.

“Recently two of my employees asked me to help them find and buy a house because they had been able to save enough from their work. That was the best moment, because I could see the direct impact of the work I’ve done.”

Osyan, who is also a youth worker with Settlement Service International and Unisson Disability, was chosen from more than 400 applicants for the program.

“For me, it’s about increasing the profile of this work, because I think it is really important to back and support refugees rebuilding their new life. To do this, I need to build a stronger network of business contacts and develop understanding of the Australian business landscape and fine tune my skills in managing a business.”

The YSP program has helped almost 250 different young people from across Australia with their ventures and ideas for the last nine years. Many former YSP participants have gone on to create significant impact in their fields including Usman Iftikhar, co-Founder of Catalysr; Vanessa Marian, director of Groove Therapy; Elliot Costello, co-Founder of YGAP; Olivia Fleming, Founder and director of The Little HELP Project; Taj Pabari, Founder of Fiftysix Creations; and more.

View the full list of 2018 Young Social Pioneers here.

Apply to be part of Young Social Pioneers 2019 program, and join a network of young people with the initiative, drive and ideas to lead change in their communities and across the planet.