Yarrie and her family were forced to flee the war in Sierra Leone and eventually settled in Australia.
In her search for work, she sometimes found herself confronting the misconception that refugees are a burden on Australia; that they're given a free ride, live on welfare and don't contribute to society. “It is a struggle for most of our brothers and sisters here in this country,” she says. “Most of the time people have qualifications, but it’s very difficult for them to get employment here.” (Indeed, 43% of refugees who arrive in Australia remain unemployed 18 months after their arrival.)
But Yarrie was determined to start her own business, seeing it as an opportunity to show her appreciation for the safety and security Australia provided. She also wanted to serve as an inspiration to others in the refugee community following their dreams. And once she could support herself, she stopped collecting money from Centrelink seven years ago - to prove that refugees were hard working and capable of "giving back".
Yarrie set up a business of her own using a recipe for ginger tonic handed down from her grandmother which she sells at markets. “Because of the way I came here I was afraid of going out there and starting up a business but I want to prove to myself I’m ready for the challenge,” she says.
Yarrie’s dream is to upscale her business and get Aunty’s Ginger Tonic in cafes and supermarkets across Australia and provide employment for new refugees.
Where is she now?
As one of the final six on The Employables, Yarrie was central to the Daily Tonic start up with Abu and Ian. Whilst she is still involved in Daily Tonic, she is now focused on growing her business, Aunty’s Ginger Tonic .
Yarrie has recently launched a website and undergone a re-branding including package re-design and an updated social media strategy for Aunty’s Ginger Tonic. The business is in the process of expanding distribution channels through third-party sellers and has invested in the production of over 6000 bottles of the tonic.
To help highlight the contribution refugees can make to Australia, Yarrie plans to create new employment opportunities through her business for refugees and Indigenous people. She also wants to raise awareness and fundraising for the support of displaced persons.
“I want to 'give back' to the Australian community by offering them the choice to improve their health and well-being”, she says.
Yarrie is still selling Aunty’s Ginger Tonic at various farmers markets around Sydney but she is looking to expand the distribution channels by supplying to large companies, health-focused cafe's and restaurants. Eventually, Yarrie would like to expand into other health-based beverages.