Take a position on something other than your own business

So many aspects of Australian tech startup culture are just copied from whatever San Francisco and the Bay Area is doing. That’s fair enough (they’re from a future in a parallel universe not disssimilar to our own) but it’s boring. It excites me when I see something new and different in Australia that I don’t see in SF.

So this is just a quick blog entry to thank the team in the Australian office of tech startup TransferWise for standing for something. Especially when most startups in SF (and therefore in Australia) adopt the “we’re a tech startup so we’re allowed to ignore what’s happening in the wider world until we’re as big as Google” position most startups adopt.

In their Faces of Australia campaign Transferwise says,

Recent immigration policies and rhetoric have made migrants feel unwelcome and even threatened. Since many TransferWise employees and customers are migrants, this hits close to home.

We wanted to put a spotlight on what Australia looks like today, the contributions migrants make to our community, and remind people that everyone has the right to feel at home in Australia.

It’s also very gratifying to see Usman Iftikhar the CEO of Australian migrapreneur accelerator Catalysr tell his story, and to see several graduates of the Catalysr programs featured in the content, including Zandile, Walid and Syed and the businesses they have created in Australia with Catalysr’s help.

Usman and Catalysr do an incredible job on a tiny budget of improving the odds of success for Australia’s new migrapreneurs. It’s hard to integrate in a new society and harder still to find a way to build a business that will sustain you, your family and the Australians your business will employ.

Catalysr continues thanks to the generosity of a small number of motivated individuals in the Australian community, supplemented by a few corporate donors. Catalysr exists on the edge of viability and little things like being featured by TransferWise makes a huge difference to the commitment and positive spirit of those involved.

It’s worth taking the time to read through some of these migrapreneur stories and watching the accompanying video. Think about what it means to the migrapreneurs themselves, to know that they are not just allowed to exist but are recognised as individuals of merit in Australia.

I think it will make you a little bit proud of Australia at a time in which it can be hard to find anything positive to think or say about the political and social dialogue in our country.

That’s priceless. Thank you Transferwise!

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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