Many migrants change careers after arriving in a new country. But Iranian refugee Jamei Mahmood has drawn on his previous career to grow a signage business, in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.
Jamei owned a successful printing business in Iran, but in 2013 he was forced to start again after fleeing to Australia by boat with his family.
“It was so hard to come to Australia, very dangerous," Jamei explains.
"If I’d known this trip was like this, I never would have come this way.”
“When I first arrived I started working with many signage companies, and it was on my mind that one day that I should start working for myself.”
But taking the step into business was challenging, without a credit history, banks were reluctant to lend money.
“I told my caseworker I wanted to start working for myself, and she recommended a program where they help people that want to open their own business,” explains Jamei.
Jamei met with not-for-profit organisation Thrive, which provides refugees and asylum seekers with microfinance loans of up to $20,000.
The loans have monthly installments, with a 12.5% variable interest rate.
While the printing industry has been experiencing declining revenue for a number of years, Thrive CEO Mahir Momand says there was a clear demand for Jamei’s products and services.
“He has been making fantastic progress," says Mahir.
"We know that his business is growing.
"He has recently made requests for further support, and he wants to buy other machines,” says Mahir.
Jamei used $30,000 of his own savings to set up a shopfront in Merrylands, and Thrive lent him a further $20,000.
Jamie explains he used the loan to purchase a vehicle: "Without the vehicle, I’m not able to do installations because I have big panels, step ladders and many power tools."
Jamei’s business experience in Iran has allowed Oxin Signs to take off, and he hopes to expand the business over the coming years.
“I would like to be one of the big companies in Australia. That’s very important for me in my life.”