The Success of Ethnic Businesses in Australia

Has anyone ever really stopped to consider the success of ethnic businesses in the country we live in? Until I decided to write this article, I never really thought of the magnitude. Although it is a part of my job to chase down successful ethnic businesses, one takes the diversity of our business landscape for granted till one thinks about the big picture.

A staggering 30% of our population was born overseas. So many migrants have come to our land for reasons such as fleeing war, chasing family, sheer curiosity, sanctuary from overbearing governments in their home lands, or stories of the Lucky Country that will open doors to newer opportunities for them to build a secure future.

And with them, these migrants not only bring their tradition and their dreams, but also their old school, nose to the grindstone work ethic and it is THIS that, I believe, allows ethnic businesses to succeed. Small businesses, established by those born overseas, usually have lower rates of failure and a more sustainable growth rate than the country average.

These are the businesses that form the Ethnic Business Awards and have done so for 28 years. The Founder and Chairman of the Ethnic Business Awards, Mr Joseph Assaf AM, in his speech at our 25th Anniversary Gala Presentation Dinner gave a spectacular summary about the scale of the success of ethnic businesses that had graced the Awards and have made Australia home:

“In the 2012 financial year alone, their cumulative turnover exceeded six billion dollars. Take the average turnover in that calculation and multiply it by the number of all nominees over the last twenty-five years, you come up with a figure of nine hundred and sixty billion dollars. Or – multiply it by the number of businesses in Australia that are owned by people born outside this country, and the figure reaches a staggering thirty-six trillion dollars.

Let’s say that sounds a bit optimistic. Let’s halve it. Then halve it again. Then halve it again. And again. And one more time for good measure. You still come up with a figure of one point two-five trillion dollars – a little below the current GDP of Australia.”

Where would Australia’s economy be without the migrant population and their enormous contributions? What would our day-to-day standard of life come to without the contribution – not just of these businesses, but also of the rich and diverse tapestry of their cultures? Where would our food culture be without the migrant’s businesses that entice us to sample and enjoy the foods of their home lands? These restaurants, take away shops, food court shops, these are all small businesses owned and run by Australians, most of who are overseas born or have an overseas born parent.

Australia cannot exist without its rich ethnic businesses and the success they bring to our country on so many levels.

By Maria Tzovaras

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