Refugee-run sweet shop offers a taste of Iran to Sydney-siders

Post Series: SSI Stories

Like his father before him, Mohammed Reza built a successful business that brought smiles to people’s faces, serving freshly made Iranian-inspired sweets, ice cream and juice from his store in Merrylands.

Mr Reza learned the trade from an early age, helping in his father’s shop in Abadan, Iran, and dreamed about one day owning his own shop and exporting Iranian products to the world.

“Half that dream has come true when I built my shop,” Mr Reza said.

“And the other part of the dream I hope to still fulfil.”

Mr Reza arrived in Australia with his wife and three children in 2013. Upon their arrival, the family were supported by the SSI Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), which assists newly arrived refugees and humanitarian entrants in their Australian settlement journey.

In a strange twist of fate, Mr Reza had always hoped to visit Australia.

“Many years ago I read The Secret, and this book had a very big influence on my life. I always wanted to visit the home country of its author,” Mr Reza said.

“And now Australia is my home and I am happy to share Iran’s delicious sweets with a new market.”

Given his passion and determination to start a small business, Mr Reza was introduced by his HSP case manager to SSI Ignite® Small Business Start-ups.

This initiative taps into the existing skills, knowledge and experience that refugees bring and supports them to navigate and succeed in the complex Australian business environment.

Ignite® Program Manager Dina Petrakis said she could see from Mr Reza’s experience and determination that he was a great candidate to be supported by Ignite and its resource team.

“Mr Reza has previously owned two businesses which employed other staff members,” Ms Petrakis said.

“With this experience and his obvious passion, we are really proud that we were able to help facilitate the opening of his business.”

Mr Reza believes that Iranian sweets have an international taste that has given them appeal in Sydney and was what made them such a successful export business.

“Everything in the shop is handmade, and people come from all over Sydney to eat them,” Mr Reza said.

“My dream is to expand into catering, and then start exporting to the USA.”

After successfully running his business for several years and building a large client base, Mr Reza received an offer to sell his sweets store, which he gladly accepted. He is now exploring other business ventures.

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For more information about Ignite® Small Business Start-ups, click here.

 

Settlement Services International (SSI) is the principal sponsor for Refugee Week 2019. This series of stories are stories of resilience and engagement from across their network.