Getting to know you series: Lebanese business owners

Our most recent Australian Census revealed that just over 230,000 Australians claimed some Lebanese ancestry and there were almost 80,000 Lebanese-born people in Australia. While this population may be small compared to, say, Australia’s enormous Chinese or South Asian populations, what distinguishes many Lebanese Australians is their propensity to own and run their own business.

No group in Australia is more likely to run their own business than migrants from the Mediterranean and the leaders in this ranking are the Lebanese. More than a third of Lebanese workers in Australia operate their own business, making them more than twice as entrepreneurial as other Australians! In Australia, there are more than 10,000 Lebanese business owners and this group makes up 36 per cent of total business owners. (Xero Business Insights)

With this in mind, we think it is well worth making Lebanese business owners the focus of the next edition of our MultiConnexions Getting to know you series. After all, Lebanese are the largest Middle Eastern community in Australia (twice the size of the second largest group, Iraqis)!

So, what distinguishes this group, and what should marketers know about them, beyond the group’s sheer size? We are so glad you asked!

Entrepreneurialism is in their DNA

The Lebanese have carved a stellar reputation for themselves as accomplished international traders for thousands of years – since ancient times. Lebanon is a small country with limited natural resources, making it a highly competitive environment. To get ahead, one must work hard and know one’s business well! Many Lebanese come (and have come) to Australia, bringing with them this same incredible entrepreneurial spirit and bold willingness to take a chance to start something fresh. They are often able to see opportunities that other Australians perhaps do not, because of their rich culture of trade, overseas experiences, and the fact that entrepreneurialism is in their DNA.

They value personal relationships

Personal relationships play a large role in Lebanese business culture, with family obviously at the centre. Many Lebanese businesspeople prefer to work with those they already know, and value positive personal attributes above finances. Honesty and trust are key to good business and so they prefer to network with those they can rely on. They often build strong friendships with potential partners to do that.

Notable groups to connect with Australian Lebanese entrepreneurs and businesses include the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry among others.

Many of them are established migrants, but also remain connected to their culture, language, traditions and religions

Most of Australia’s Lebanese-born residents arrived here before 1991. As such, the majority of Lebanese in Australia are well established and have been permanent residents for decades. Nevertheless, many of them are still deeply connected to the culture, language and traditions of Lebanon as well as their religions.

Australia’s Lebanese-ancestry population is diverse, with Christians (Maronites, Melkites, Greek Orthodox and Protestants) and Muslims (Shia and Sunnis) as well as Druze represented here. Lebanese-born make up 24 per cent of the 321,000 Arabic speakers in Australia – making Lebanon the main source country of Arabic speaking migrants in Australia.

They are metro-centric and tend to cluster in communities

Most of the Lebanese-Australian community live in metro Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, of the 80,000 Lebanese born people in Australia, nearly 66,000 of them reside in Greater Sydney – that’s more than 80 per cent! Key locations with high populations of Lebanese Australians are Bankstown, Holroyd, Canterbury, Parramatta, Lakemba, Greenacre and Punchbowl. Entrepreneurial Lebanese in Melbourne have opened restaurants, groceries, Middle Eastern shops and Lebanese bars on Sydney Road, an area which is sometimes called “Little Lebanon” by locals.

Lebanese have distinguished themselves in business, science, academia, the professions, sport and the arts among other fields. They share a common desire with all migrants to build a better life for their families, secure education, improve finances and build a happy life.

Interested in targeting Australia’s Lebanese business owner/ business migrant population or the broader Arabic speaking population in Australia? Contact MultiConnexions today to commence a conversation.

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