Westpac, Thrive offers $2 million to help refugees start businesses
“Years of experience have shown that refugees who are economically independent, integrate into their new country more quickly. Australia has a burgeoning service-based economy which provides abundant opportunities for self-motivated individuals to start their own business.”
Refugees settling in Australia now have a greater chance of starting a successful business, thanks to a new partnership between Westpac and not-for-profit microfinancing charity, Thrive. Westpac has been named as the Principal Banking Partner to Thrive, and will provide $2 million in funding towards microfinance loans and support for refugees who want to start their own business.
The bank will provide funding without cost to Thrive, to ensure that the charity has a secure funding source to support new Australian refugees.
Eligible applicants will be sourced with the assistance of existing refugee settlement service providers, Settlement Services International (NSW) and AMES (Victoria). Thrive will provide loans to refugees through a business start-up package, as well as assist with further education programs, qualifications and apprenticeships, and business mentoring.
Mr George Frazis, Westpac Group Chief Executive of Consumer Bank said the organisation is honoured to partner with Thrive to offer meaningful assistance to refugees. “As Australia’s oldest company and first bank, we are committed to supporting our country’s economic future, particularly at a grassroots level. Many refugees have the skills and ambition required to start successful and sustainable businesses, and a head-start through Thrive will be a life changing experience for them that will also have a positive flow-on effect to the entire community,” he says.
“Our financial support also includes assigning a capable COO to help establish Thrive as a stand-alone entity by developing all elements of the organisation’s operations, from credit policies to loan documents,” Frazis adds.
John Curtis, Thrive Chairman, said the private sector has a role to play in supporting refugee enterprise. “We are absolutely delighted to have Westpac’s support to help establish and provide funding for Thrive. We want refugees to succeed for their own well-being and for the benefit of Australia,” he says. “Thrive will fill a gap in the system for refugees by focusing on a complete support service, providing finance, business support services, assisting with professional accreditation, and mentoring.”
Mr Huy Truong, Deputy Chairman of Thrive and a Vietnamese refugee, said refugees make a vital contribution to Australia’s economic growth and cultural diversity. “Years of experience have shown that refugees who are economically independent, integrate into their new country more quickly. Australia has a burgeoning service-based economy which provides abundant opportunities for self-motivated individuals to start their own business,” Truong says.