Our warmest and sincere congratulations to our 2017 Ethnic Business Awards Finalists.
And many thanks to over 400 nominees that took part in the Awards this year… The calibre of businesses continues to astound and amaze !
Here are their stories:
Indigenous in Business Category Finalists 2017
Kennelly Constructions Pty Ltd – Shane Kennelly – Chevallum – QLD
Being put in the unpleasant position of having to significantly reduce the number of staff of the publicly listed company he was a General Manager for, Shane Kennelly decided this line of work was not for him. He wanted to have his own business where people would be “recognised as the number one asset and value.” With his brother Adam and their wives, they bought an existing earthmoving business. They faced the challenges of securing finances whilst raising their own young families. They faced the hardships of relocation, moving away from familiarity and family. Their sacrifices, however, paid off, as in 5 short and dynamic years, Kennelly Constructions has developed into a strong national Indigenous construction business.
Redspear Safety Pty Ltd – Barry McGuire – Bayswater – WA
One day, a great man “had a dream” that lead a revolution. Same could be said for Barry McGuire who with a dream he had one night, led the revolution in breaking the mould of what a successful Aboriginal-owned business could be. The tragedy of a young man in fatal accident impacted Barry’s idea on safety so much that along with his dream, a lot of determination and 18 months of industry analysis, he started an engineered safety business. Along with his business partner, Barry created the first and currently only Indigenous-owned business in Australia with a niche focus on engineered safety products. Their belief is that if it can’t be done safely, it should not be done at all.
WALGA Mining & Services – Elliott McNamara – Whyalla – SA
Elliott always had desire to succeed & be successful in business. With the growth of the mining industry, he saw Aboriginal groups engaged with big businesses for use of their ancestral lands that resulted in royalties. But royalties did not secure a prosperous future for his community.
He wanted to create a business that gave back to the Indigenous people by investing in economic sustainability & growth of a local Aboriginal business. And that is how WALGA Mining Services was born. Taking a risk & remembering his father’s words ‘that nobody owes us anything & we have to make our own future’, WALGA predominately specialises in mining & civil with current crushing, civil services, fencing, load & haul operations with over 50 full time staff on-board
REFAP Pty Ltd – Triscilla Holborow – Karratha – WA
In the peak of the mining boom in 2010, Pilbara businesses were booming but Triscilla Holborow saw that the Indigenous people in her local community were suffering poverty, unemployment and other social changes. Subject to bullying and prejudice her entire working career for being Indigenous, but also the added challenge of being a female in the mining environment, she decided in order to make a change she was going to be the change. Walking away from a full time job, with the support of her partner Kelly, Triscilla persevered for 9 months before her first break. And from this break, she continued to build and develop REFAP, which stands for Real Employment for Aboriginal People. It is a specialised employment service for Indigenous people, and also offers Mail Logistics and Youth Services.
Small Business Category Finalists 2017
GlassCo Australia Pty Ltd – Rajesh Kataria – Dandenong South – VIC
Rajesh came to Australia from India to follow his career in civil engineering. This dream was not realised and he had to start making his ends meet in the beginning by selling newspapers, washing dishes and tutoring. Working odd jobs was difficult and less rewarding for the hard work endured. Branching out into business ownership with a takeaway shop, he and his wife worked hard and long hours but Rajesh wanted more for himself and his young family. Changing his direction of business, in partnership with an acquaintance, he began importing architectural glass from India to Australia. With an opening from a glass company going into liquidation and with a whole lot of perseverance, this gave him the foundations to make GlassCo Australia what it is today doubling the company’s revenue in the last 4 years.
Hoang Do Western Airport Services – Manh Hoang Do – Cabramatta – NSW
Under a new regime in his homeland of Vietnam, Manh and his family suffered. He gave up school and worked in a bakery, making bread to help his family survive. In search for a better life, he fled to Thailand where he was taken to a refugee camp. In 1983, he was accepted to come to Australia, arriving in his new land with no family and no money. After two weeks in a new country, he began working again as a baker. Baking, however, was not a stable future for him. In 2007, from his own experience of the hassle of getting to and from the airport, Manh decided to try the transport business. From 3 buses to 25, Hoang Do Western Airport Services now provide not only airport transfers, but also do sightseeing and parties and tours.
SalDoce Fine Foods – Cristina Talacko – Woolloomooloo – NSW
Cristina followed her husband to Australia from Brazil in 1997 along with her two young children. With her husband’s job taking him interstate and overseas, Cristina was at home alone with two little ones, and her parents and support network some 13,500kms away. With a law degree not recognised here, she tried her hand at wedging her way back into practising. Her hands however were full raising two children and she decided to do something for herself. Driven by the need for flexibility for her duties as a mum and by her homesickness and the love of a traditional Brazilian cheesy bread snack, SalDoce Fine Foods was born. Seeing the need in her clientele for gluten free products also lead to the venture into her own food brand which now sits on the shelves of Woolworths and Aldi.
Sunshine Meats – Jose Pereira – Milperra – NSW
From a young age, Jose Pereira was no stranger to hard work. But opportunities on the island of Madeira in his homeland Portugal became scarce and he decided to follow the footsteps of his older brother all the way to Australia. Jose arrived and started working in his brother’s fruit shop. Accompanying a friend to a job at a butcher one day, saw his friend a no show and Jose employed in his place. Knowing nothing about butchering, he slowly absorbed all the required skills. The then owner offered to sell him the business and the rest is history. What started as a small butcher has now evolved into wholesale factory catering to clients such as Qantas and Bather’s Pavilion. Sunshine Meats also created a deli/café where customers can sample their smallgoods before buying their favourites to take home.
Medium to Large Business Category Finalists 2017
Riverina Oils & Bio Energy – DD Saxena – Balwyn – VIC
In 2001, DD was diagnosed with Cancer and given 6 months to live. For personal reasons, he decided to move to Australia and resigned from a Senior Corporate Management role to start a greenfield business. Harnessing his experience and credibility in the Industry, he embarked upon building the largest Food/Agri business enterprise which has resulted in a state of art Canola Seed Processing Plant producing the best quality Canola Oil and Canola Protein Meal. Today, ROBE is the largest processer and exporter of Refined Canola Edible Oil in Australia. The company has created a large footprint in the Riverina Region which impacts Farmers, Transport Companies, Service Industry, Feed Mills and has a huge multiplier effect which creates a significant impact. ROBE has also created a brand in US and India which will promote Australia Business.
Dyvest Health Care Pty Ltd – Dr Van Minh Nguyen – Lakemba, NSW
From dishwasher to doctor, a refugee fleeing the Communist regime of Vietnam, Van Minh served jail time as an 11 year old for trying to escape for a better life. Arriving in Australia with his younger brother to look after, he juggled school, and 20 hour work shifts at multiple jobs to support and educate himself to become a doctor. Now, not only does he continue to work hard as a doctor with 16 medical centres that see over 1 million patients a year but he holds a variety of other businesses such as 3 shopping centres, 1 wedding reception centre and 30 residential units. Versatility and perseverance have led him to his success to day.
Commercial Retail Group – Nicholas Chapley – Lakemba, NSW
Due to the occupation of Greece, and the extreme hardship and starvation that followed WWII, Nicholas aged 6, his brother and mother fled from the island of Ikaria in a small rowing boat to the Middle East. They became refugees and lived in camps for 4 years. When the family returned to Greece, they were confronted with a Civil War and in 1949 left for Australia to re-unite with their father. In 1951, the first family business was established where Nicholas’ passion and innovative self-drive for retail commenced and in 1963 the family ventured into supermarkets. For some 65 years, Nicholas has set the bar very high with his dedication to the community, including the establishment of a Charity foundation supporting disadvantage youth, fostering partnerships, service excellence and creating employment opportunities for South Australians.
Jewel Fine Foods – Kishore Matta – Banksmeadow, NSW
Born to refugee parents migrating post the Indian partition, Kishore started work at 16 to help his family. At 18 and for the next 12 years, his life in the navy, from cadet to captain opened his eyes to the world and its opportunities. He migrated to New Zealand with his wife and along with her food technology experience and not much more, ventured into restauranteering. Feeling that this would not reach the masses, they took the next step into a food business with frozen ready to eat meals. The success and high demand saw an invitation from Australia to supply 550 supermarket stores. They took the risk and packed up and migrated yet again, and aren’t we glad he did. Almost 20 years later, Jewel Fine Foods is a household name found in most major supermarkets.