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Refugee wins 2010 ethnic business award for Looksmart Alterations

Abraham Hatoum, Managing Director of Australian Franchise clothing alterations business LookSmart Alterations, was awarded the 2010 Ethnic Business Award in the large business category, for personal and business endurance through hardship, success and contributions to the community.

Looksmart AlterationsThe Ethnic Business Awards is Australia’s most prestigious event amongst the ethnic business community.  Founded in 1998, this year’s event was held in Perth at the invitation of the Western Australia State Government and judged by business and multicultural leaders Don Argus, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, Carla Zampatti, John Borghetti, Eve Crestani, Joseph Elu and Allen Gyngell.  The Awards recognise and reward the success and contribution of migrants to the Australian economy.

Granted entry into Australia on humanitarian grounds in 1985, Abraham escaped the horrors of a refugee camp in Lebanon that included separation from his family, extreme poverty and the murder of his father.  Committed to making a better life for himself and his family, the former refugee only too familiar with ripped or ill fitting clothing started a Sydney CBD based business that repairs and alters clothing for consumers and retailers in the local area.

Today, LookSmart Alterations services customers and businesses all over Australia and New Zealand through nearly 100 stores.   The company supports and develops many successful small business owners, creating over 500 jobs and a turnover approaching 30 million dollars a year.

Abraham Hatoum, Founder & Managing Director, LookSmart Alterations said:

“I am honoured, proud and extremely emotional about this award.  Every entrepreneur knows that it is not easy to build a successful company.  I was given the challenge of first staying alive.  So this recognition is extremely moving and a reminder of the blood sweat and tears that I endured, along with my family.

“Most importantly, my wife accepted some crazy decisions such as spending every cent we had on starting up the first business.  We paid staff with silver coins and lived on bare minimum but she believed in the business and in me – and together we worked hard to ensure our family would never be in a position of poverty or insecurity again.

“By its very nature, a franchise system’s success depends on the sum of many parts.  I wholeheartedly thank the many hardworking LookSmart franchise owners.  The company’s growth would not have been possible without your belief, dedication and exceptional work.

“The past for me has been harrowing, and one that is impossible to avoid revisiting.  And I will be forever happy to do so if it means I can give other refugees, dreamers and the underprivileged, hope.  Believe in yourself, work hard and know that with perseverance, your dreams can come true in this great country”.

The 2010 Ethnic Business Awards gala event and awards ceremony was held on the 7th of November at Perth’s Burswood Entertainment Complex in Western Australia.

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Paul Hayman

Paul Hayman

Paul is a staff writer for Dynamic Business online.

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