As a young girl growing up inside a small village in India, Saman Umza had always dreamed of owning her own business. She would watch cart vendors trawl though the streets, selling their wares, being their own bosses, and decided that is what she would do – but on a different level. Saman had always been drawn to the logic of mathematical thinking and went on to defy the social norms of her society – where females predominantly studied nursing and teaching – and went on to study software development.
‘I like the idea that you can create anything in IT. In software development, we get to create new things. All kinds of things that requires our logic and our reasoning and the ability to create.’
Throughout her studies, the idea of owning her business never left the back of Saman’s mind. She carried this spark with her, even though her family pushed her in the direction of a secure job. ‘They thought business had too much risk,’ says Saman. ‘Risky for men, and definitely too risky for women. But I knew if I wanted creative independence, I needed to start my own business.’
After spending six years working in the Gulf, Saman and her husband sat down with a map to decide where their lives would take them next. Eventually, the promise of a secure and stable life brought them to Australia’s doorstep.
Any regrets? ‘None at all,’ she smiles. ‘Not one’.
A new country meant a new environment, no knowledge of the Australian markets, no connections and no support network. These were the challenges Saman was facing, along with the task of adapting her business plan to accommodate the developing technology field. ‘It was overwhelming, and I began to doubt myself’.
This is where Ignite stepped in. After being referred to the program, Saman was able to breathe easier, knowing she had a ready, business-minded network at her back. ‘Ignite really helped me understand the needs of a business. Without them, I might have given up and gone back to the security of an IT job’.
When Saman approached Ignite, her idea was still just that spark she had carried with her for years. With their help, she learned how to register her business, how to assess risks, and got in touch with finance and marketing experts. ‘These things really provided me with the stability a business needs and I survived the crucial first year.’
These days, Saman’s software business is doing so well she’s taken on other Ignite clients as her own. ‘One of the best things to happen was Ignite making me part of their Resource Team, so I am able to give back’, she says. ‘I help people go through what I went through and try and make their lives a little easier’. She also establishes payment plans or in-kind payments for the businesses who are not yet financially on their feet.
Saman’s kindness is reflective of the diverse and inclusive community Ignite functions in, and she wants newcomers to Australia to know they aren’t alone. The best advice she can offer is to take advantage of organisations who offer resource support and assistance programs. One day, she hopes to be one of them. ‘I’d like to start a foundation, so I can give some of my profit, time and knowledge to people in the community who are new to Australia, and who need work and support.’