SUPPORT: Joy Juma, Jane Clarke and Mary Deng work to support A Tuk to create reusable face masks at the Ballarat Welcome Centre. Pictures: Kate Healy

Article by The Courier

Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council has opened a new space to support migrant women to develop their businesses in Ballarat.

Wendouree MP Juliana Addison and Buninyong MP Michaela Settle announced on Thursday $32,500 funding would be provided for the women’s business incubator space.

The grant will enable the creation of office spaces that will include workstations, a sewing workshop, child friendly areas, kitchenette and display centre at the Ballarat Welcome Centre on Barkly Street.

Sewing enterprise A Tuk is the first business in residence at the site and worked to create reusable face masks on Thursday.

Nyibol Deng launched the business last year after participating in the Stepping Stones program that supports migrant women to start up small businesses.

She said the Ballarat Welcome Centre space would provide a place to support women to do what they love and develop their businesses.

“Starting a business has changed my mindset,” Ms Deng said.

“I didn’t know before if I would be able to run a business, be a part of the business community, be able to learn new skills and use what I have to be able to adapt in the community.

“We are using a lot of African colours in our sewing and we bring our culture to Australia, which is our home country now.”

Ballarat Welcome Centre women’s space co-ordinator Joy Juma said the new centre would provide an opportunity for women, particularly those over 50, to continue their business journey after the Stepping Stones program.

“There is a lot of hidden talent in this group of women.”

Ann Foley, Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council

Ms Juma also participated in the Stepping Stones program, which gave her the confidence to continue with her business Pando Infant Massage.

“For us it is an opportunity to take off. We have been given a platform to stand on. We are equal, we are on that platform,” she said.

“It makes me feel valued to contribute to the community and bring my experiences.”

OPPORTUNITY: Owner of sewing business A Tuk Nyibol Deng works at the women’s incubator space for the first time on Thursday.

Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council executive officer Ann Foley said it could be for difficult migrants to break into employment and stay employed with barriers around language and lack of connections.

“Ballarat is changing slowly but it is harder for migrants to find and keep jobs, so it is great to be able to develop enterprises,” she said.

“There is a lot of hidden talent in this group of women. They all have great resilience. Many of them have grown up in economies where small business is an integral part of livelihood for families from teenage years.”

Ms Settle and Ms Addison encouraged people to visit the BRMC online market page,, that features many products from women involved in the business incubator.

“This innovative program will empower women by creating opportunities and positive outcomes,” Ms Addison said.

“‘It is an opportunity to take off’: new space supports migrant women in small business” Rochelle Kirkham, The Courier (, 23 July 2020.