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Iranian immigrant switches dentistry to gelato, builds new business in Australia

Despite the additional challenges of speaking limited English and the low success rate of new businesses in New South Wales, Iranian families are discouraged from going into business.

Three months ago, college lecturer Sarah Minagar, her dentist husband Cambiz Seiedgaroururi and their children left political turmoil in their home country to open a chocolate and gelato franchise in Wollongong.

“We had to set up a business in the Australian region according to the visa,” Minagher said.

“Wollongong was better because it’s a city with a university.”

In 2021, Iran will be Australia’s second largest source of business migrants, followed by China and Hong Kong in third place.

Mr. Seyedgarouri opened a gelato shop because his daughter likes gelato. (ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

The family-run company employs eight people, some of whom help the couple with their language skills.

“Two staff members from England and Australia helped us because they were locals. [English language speakers]says Minagar.

She said she found the two employees by posting a sign in the window of a store on Keira Street, Wollongong’s main street.

“We just put a note saying we were looking for them and they came,” Minagher said.

Four people smiling at a gelato shop.

Seyedgaroururi with employees Annie Chiem, Miyabi Ho and Saurab Nagmoti. (ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

Her colleague Miyavi Ho, the first employee to move from Hong Kong, said the Iranian family decided to start the business because of their daughter’s sweet tooth.

“The dentist quit his job in Iran and came to Australia to open a gelato shop because his daughter loves gelato, especially strawberry gelato,” she says.

“This is a little story they told us.”

Ho says his background in management helps.

“I helped them decide what to do first,” she says.

About 473,000 new businesses opened across Australia in the 2021-22 financial year, while more than 305,000 also stopped trading, according to New South Wales government figures.

Minagar said she expected more difficulties than she had faced so far.

“It’s a franchise, and the franchisor helps us a lot. They supply the basic ingredients and help us with everything,” she says.

Pink, orange, yellow, green, red and blue colored ice creams are lined up on the store shelves.

Various flavors of ice cream in the couple’s shop. (ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

tough business environment

Business Illawarra executive director Adam Zarth said rising interest rates and inflation have made it difficult for new businesses to launch, but the food industry has proven more resilient than other consumer products.

“In the foodservice sector, we are seeing strong demand, especially for takeout, but that is probably going to luxury goods,” he says.

A man in a black t-shirt and glasses is reaching for an ice cream shelf to scoop ice cream into a cup.

A regional visa can be a pathway to citizenship. (ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

Zaas said newly arrived migrants may face challenges with compliance issues as they may not be familiar with Australia’s complex accounting and legal system and how to access information there, but he feels the organization’s role is to support them.

“We pushed the government out of the pandemic very strongly to get more immigrants, and it worked,” he says.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the number of arriving migrants in 2021-22 will rise to 395,000 from 146,000 the year before, representing a 171 per cent increase, effectively stimulating the economy by addressing labor shortages.

“Of course, we really hope that our recently arrived immigrants are doing well in the Illawarra, because clearly we are a community built by immigrants, and we benefit from a lot of international students,” says Zarth.

“That is why we fully support our diverse community of small business start-ups.

“We just want to make sure they get the support and advice they need.”


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-23/iranian-migrants-set-up-new-lives-business-in-wollongong/102624648 Iranian immigrant switches dentistry to gelato, builds new business in Australia

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