The event, celebrating its 19th year, was held in Sydney in the presence of His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffrey AC CVO MC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and highlighted the exemplary contributions made by some of Australia’s leading and innovative business owners.
Founder of the Ethnic Business Awards, Mr Joseph Assaf said: “The calibre of finalists at this year’s awards have shown unique and extra ordinary qualities that have contributed to their success. Each and every one of our entrants has overcome the obstacles associated with migrating to a new country and way of life, and embraced their new culture and environment. Particularly impressive is the way in which they have embraced technological advancements in each of their respective fields of expertise. I congratulate the winners on their outstanding efforts”.
This year’s winner of the Small Business Category was Spanish born, Dr. Carl Munoz-Ferrada of Gammasonics. Since 1977, Gammasonics has been blazing the trails of discovery through the research, design and manufacturing of technology including radiation detection equipment for diagnostic, radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, industrial radiation and both national and home land security. Munoz-Ferrada developed the Gamma-probe, the apparatus that can detect the exact link between the cancerous tumor in the breast and the direct link to the node, transforming the way in which breast cancer is treated by reducing radical surgeries.
“I still remember the echoing words of my uncle when I told him I was leaving to the Antipodes where he told me ‘never forget your Spanish roots but grow new branches and produce fruit that you can be proud of’. The development of the Gamma-probe for application in Breast Cancer and Melanoma surgery has changed how the procedure is today managed by surgeons. It is simple to utilise and has treated more than million patients worldwide. The satisfaction to see patients having less traumatic surgical procedures and the post surgical consequence is more rewarding than the financial aspect,” said Dr. Carl Munoz-Ferrada, Gammasonics.
The winner of the Medium to Large Business category was Lebanese born, Therese Bechara of Landria Constructions. Therese Bechara is a property developer specialising in top quality residential premises, high-rise apartments, blocks of villas and townhouses both for the private and public sector. Ms. Bechara has pioneered the luxury housing market using her innate sense of style and business savvy, and brought dignity and comfort to the public housing market.
“I am very grateful to my parents who chose Australia as the new home for our family all those years ago. In 1949 my father arrived in Sydney with nothing more than a suitcase and an Arabic – English dictionary. He taught himself how to speak English and set out using his skills as a stonemason to establish his own business in the building industry. His business acumen must have rubbed of on me along the way. In 1950 my mother and the four children were united with Dad in Australia. It is impossible to think of how things would have turned out had my parents chosen any other country. But what I do know is that Australia provides opportunity to people who are persistent, determined and willing to have a go," said Therese Bechara, Landria Constructions.
The winner of the Initiative Award was Lebanese born, John Abou-Haila of MEB Foods, one of the largest manufacturers of flat breads, Lebanese breads, Turkish breads, Souvlaki bread and importers of Middle Eastern groceries and nuts. From humble beginnings with a small bakery, John now services every state in Australia nationally and has exported to China, Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“If there is one circular lesson I have learnt from this endeavour, which I would like to share with you as motivation in your own lives, it is to always strive for better and never settle for anything less than perfect. You can achieve anything if you believe and work hard enough, your efforts will be rewarded. It’s been a long and hard journey with many ups and downs, but at the end of the day its awards of recognition like this that makes it all worthwhile,” said Mr John Abou-Haila of MEB Foods.
The Ethnic Business Awards (ethnicbusinessawards.com) will be aired nationally on eight networks including SBS on Sunday December 2 at 11.00am, Aurora Community Channel on Wednesday 12th December 8.30pm, RAI (Italian Television), Antenna (Greek Television), TVB (Chinese Television), ART and LBC1 servicing Arabic viewers and international to 46 countries on the Australian Network (formally ABC Asia Pacific).
Each year there is a nationwide search for applicants for the Ethnic Business Awards. Criteria for selection include business owners who were born in a country other than Australia and who own and operate businesses of excellence in either the small or medium to large business categories. Esteemed judges evaluate each applicant on overall success, innovation, market creativity, hardships endured, future growth and contribution to community and nation.
Finalists are awarded five thousand dollars cash, two return business class tickets to any of Emirate’s destinations in Europe, Africa or the Middle East, a hand crafted crystal trophy and a one- year subscription to The Bulletin magazine.