The IGNITE team are as passionate as the entrepreneurs they work with

The Visionaries

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO, Settlement Services International

SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, recognised early the need for a unique approach to supporting refugee entrepreneurship. Her extensive knowledge, experience and leadership of large not-for-profit organisations providing services to CALD and refugee communities, and a fortuitous meeting with Dr Ernesto Sirolli, provided the catalyst for the creation of Ignite Small Business Start Ups.

Violet was recently named one of AFR’s Top 100 Women of Influence for 2018 in the category of Diversity & Inclusion. She has twice been named on Pro Bono Australia’s list of the 25 most influential people in the not-for-profit sector and was awarded the title of Community Fellow from Western Sydney University for outstanding service to the community in 2017. She holds the title of Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year.

“My parents instilled in me a deep belief that every person should have the right to meet their full potential, to live the life they want to live, and to be treated fairly and with dignity.” –Violet Roumeliotis, October 2018

Dr Ernesto Sirolli, Founder, Sirolli Institute

“There is no geography to passion and there is no geography to intelligence”

Dr. Ernesto Sirolli is a community iron man. In 1971 he began working in the field of international aid in Africa.That experience inspired him to develop Enterprise Facilitation®. The EF model and Trinity of Management® tool trains communities, NGO’s and corporations in how to capture the passion, energy and imagination of people. Dr. Sirolli lives in the USA and founded the Sirolli Institute.

Dr. Sirolli received a Laurea di Dottore in Political Sciences from Rome University, a Ph.D in Local Enterprise Facilitation from Murdoch University, and is the author of two books: “Ripples from the Zambezi” and “How to Start a Business and Ignite your Life”. In 2012, Dr. Sirolli gave a TEDx talk, “Shut up and Listen”, and that has been translated into 35 languages and downloaded three million times.

The Team

Dina Petrakis, IGNITE Global Manager

From community development in Northern Thailand to working as an adviser for the Solomon Islands Prison Service, Dina’s diverse career in social justice led her to SSI. As the inaugural facilitator trained by Dr Ernesto Sirolli, she was charged with the task of establishing Ignite in Australia. Seeing first-hand the challenges facing migrants and refugees hoping to start businesses, Dina led the development of a customized and culturally appropriate model that provides targeted support to entrepreneurs building a new life in a new country.

In five years, SSI’s IGNITE Small Business Start Ups program has gone from strength to strength; now licensed in Queensland and Canada. Her new role as Ignite Global Manager focusses on supporting the expansion and customizing of the model, to assist other host countries meet the challenges of refugee and newcomer settlement.

The Facilitators

Ben’s clients benefit from his background in finance and psychology, and his guidance in navigating Australia’s regulatory environment and business standards. With his own start-up experience, IGNITE’s Senior Facilitator supports his colleagues to meet the needs of every new client.

IGNITE’s Specialist Facilitator, Merenia, works with entrepreneurs with disability. Her flexible and creative approach to business development lends itself to her client group, and in just over 18 months she has supported 30 people with disability to establish and grow their businesses.

Having recently arrived in Australia herself, Natalia understands the challenges of settling into a new country. With a background in journalism and marketing, and after 12 months on the IGNITE Resource Team, she shares her strategic focus and calm demeanour to her clients.

The Project Officer

Responsible for supporting the work of the program, the facilitators, and the manager, Tatjana is essential to all aspects of IGNITE. Her previous experience managing a large social enterprise in Sydney gave her a head start on working with the IGNITE program. From a refugee background herself, her knowledge and experience are a credit to the team.

The Administration Support

Always on hand to welcome entrepreneurs and visitors to the IGNITE space, Clementine coordinates our busy team and office with a smile. She has a background in social and community development and supervised a boarding house in Bondi.