Rassul Zahrouni had a successful and happy life in Iran. He owned two jewellery shops and enjoyed peace and prosperity with his family and friends.
In 2013, however, he was forced to leave behind everything he knew because of persecution based on his Mandean faith.
Mandeans in Iran face discrimination and exclusion, and are restricted from fully participating in civil life.
“I was happy to come to Australia because I know that Australia is multicultural and I would be free to practice my religion here,” Mr Zahrouni said.
Mr Zahrouni came to Australia with his wife, two children and extended family in 2013 in search of safety.
“My first impression of Australia was that it was safe and calm.”
In Sydney, after working for 18 months in a food warehouse, Mr Zahrouni felt confident to start his own small business again.
He was introduced to SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative — a self-funded start-up initiative that facilitates business creation for new entrepreneurs from refugee backgrounds.
An Ignite Facilitator assisted Mr Zahrouni with an interpreter to help to liaise with the real estate agent and local council, and provided contacts for a suitable accountant and solicitor. With support from Ignite, Mr Zahrouni was able to set up a grocery business.
“I would not have established my business without the help of Ignite,” Mr Zahrouni said.
“They have been beside with me every step of the way.”
Mr Zahourni now has a shop in Fairfield Heights selling general and specialist Middle Eastern groceries.