Young refugee’s halal success

Khan Hazara was presented as a nominee in the WFI Insurance small business achiever award by Jenny Mikados MP. Photo supplied.
He came by boat and spent months in detention. Within a decade of his release his business acumen is paying off. "Work hard, be confident and trust yourself," Khan Hazara reveals the secret to success. Roushan Jafari reports.

Former refugee, Khan Hazara has been nominated for a Victorian young Achiever Award for his business prowess. Since arriving in Australia Khan worked hard to buy himself a small bakery. He then extended the small bakery into a big halal supermarket. In September 2012 Dandy Mart Hampton Park opened for the first time.

In August this year, Dandy Mart Hampton Park proudly expanded its fruit and vegetables section into an even bigger store which is next door.

In his mid-20s, he is the youngest Hazara businessman in the Afghan Hazara community in Australia.

“Night time I worked at the bakery baking bread, in the early hours of the morning delivering the bread around Melbourne suburbs, only getting three to four hours of sleep each day,” It was a hard time. But he is happy because in eighteen months, his business almost doubled.

The name of the shop, Dandy Mart, was borrowed from Hazara’s uncle, who owns the original Dandy Mart, located in Dandenong, been operating for almost 11 years. He credits his uncle with giving which has his business a head start, as the Dandy Mart name is held in high regard in the local community.

Young refugee's halal success
Dandy Mart Grocery Shop Hampton Park. Photo Roushan Jafari.

Mr Hazara came to Australia by boat in November 2009. He was in Christmas Island’s detention centre for three months then he was released with a permanent residency visa. “I came to Australia with nothing but a spare t-shirt and pants and the shoes on my feet,” said Mr Hazara.

It was not an easy decision to come here. He had to leave behinds his mother and his wife, with whom he has two daughters and a son.

In June last year Mr Hazara was recognized for his contribution to the community. “It is exciting when someone from the wider community appreciates your little contribution. They encourage your efforts and hard work and to keep away from politics and religions,” said Mr Hazara.

Mr Hazara always ensures customers have a great service and customers’ needs are met. He is aware that Melbourne’s population is becoming increasingly diverse. “Through my networks I can provide big brands recognisable to people from the Middle East and Europe. All local European, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Iranian, Indian and Afghan communities shop at my store,” he says.

Dandy Mart is a premium wholesale distributor and supplier of one of Melbourne’s largest ranges of international groceries. He Carries thousands of products all available to public at Dandenong and Hampton Park warehouses.

This includes the foods from overseas, different types of cucumber pickles, olives and cheese from Europe. He has found that frozen foods are popular reflecting with indian consumers busy schedules.

As a child growing up in Afghanistan with out opportunities for you, he believed that dreams just happened. But today he has realised that you have to work hard to achieve your dreams. “I am a proud Australian businessman dealing with 150 suppliers and have got my own company running a successful business in Australia,” he said.

Mr Hazara, now employs five full-time staff.

Fereshta Rezai, a Customer service supervisor at Dandy Mart for almost four years, she says Dandy Mart has been her second family since she joined the grocery shop in 2016. She always looks forward to work. “This is a truly professional business that never compromises on quality and good ideas are always encouraged and fully supported.

“Working for a grocery shop which allows you to be your best and provides an abundant positive environment is truly a blessing, I am super proud to be part of Dandy Mart Super Market,” she says.

In September 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics research shows that refugee people who have resilient enough to survive war, famine, and other unimaginable tragedies are perhaps the most entrepreneurial of all migrants to the country. The data also shows refugees make more of their money from their own unincorporated businesses thank those that go to Australian on skilled-worker or family visas.

Fatima Rezai, a regular customer at Dandy Mart, who has been doing her grocery shopping since the shop opened. She lives 20 minutes away. Fatima came to Australia in 2007 with no English. She is studying a bachelor of Health Science at Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorn.

She says Khan Hazara is a role model.  “I am extremely amazed and proud, ” says Miss Rezai.

Miss Rezai says Dandy Mart always provides fresh fruit, meat and vegetables with affordable prices. She feels really happy to have Dandy Mart Super Market close to her, so that she don’t have to travel far places for her groceries.

“Happy workers mean happy customer,”says Mr Hazara he spends a lot of time mentoring staff. “People spend so much time at work it’s not fair if they aren’t feeling happy while at work”.

“My advice for future generation is to fully immerse yourself in your community, the opportunities and freedom we have in Australia most of people don’t have this freedom in their country. We are lucky to live in Australia where all of us can realize our dreams,” says Mr Hazara.