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“Changing the narrative”: Migrant-focused startup hub settles into new, expanded office space

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Aiman Hamdouna

Hatch Quarter co-founder Aiman Hamdouna. Source: supplied.

Hatch Quarter, the Aussie co-working hub focused on migrant and refugee entrepreneurs, is settling into a new, extended location, as co-founder Aiman Hamdouna strives to build a thriving entrepreneurial community.

The move follows the release of Hatch Quarter’s Playbook for International Entrepreneurs earlier this year — a guide offering support to newcomers to the Australian startup scene, available in five languages.

Now, the hub has extended the square footage available to its residents, boasting a bigger co-working office and a dedicated events space.

Already, it’s hosted a hackathon in Arabic for Saudi students, and although Hamdouna doesn’t reveal details, he says there are a few more events in the pipeline too.

But, Hatch Quarter is also doubling down on its main objective: providing a space where founder can feel welcome and thrive in Australia.

While it welcomes anyone, the hub is specifically geared towards migrant and refugee entrepreneurs and innovators.

The hope is, however, that eventually such a thing won’t need to exist, and these founders will be “part of the ecosystem, and they will be assessed based on their competencies”, Hamdouna tells StartupSmart.

“The unconscious bias would be reduced.”

In an ideal world, people would talk about migrant entrepreneurs solely based on their businesses, he adds. What that requires is a mindset shift.

“As humans, we do have this unconscious bias sometimes, it’s just addressing that, being aware of it, and changing the narrative and the perception of migrants and refugees from someone who’s trying to take from the system … to someone who’s trying to contribute.”

Hamdouna sees Hatch Quarter as having a part to play in that. The hub is currently home to 12 startups all in different stages, but it’s not exactly a co-working space, nor is it an incubator.

It’s a community, Hamdouna says.

“We have here in the co-working space ecosystem providers who are supporting innovation within those startups,” he explains.

“It’s quite intimate,” he adds.

“The people who join us are connected to what we’re able to either deliver to the startups, or they’re startups we’re working with.”

While Hatch Quarter is expanding, Hamdouna maintains it’s no WeWork, and will be picking up at a slow and steady pace.

“It’s a step-by-step process,” she says.

“It goes to how you expect and how you plan, and sometimes something happens and you pivot a little bit.”

Currently, every startup Hatch Quarter has worked with has actually outgrown the space and moved onto its next phase. That’s something Hamdouna sees as a success and an opportunity.

Already, he’s in discussions about expanding into other Aussie states.

“There is room for us to grow, with the right community, with the right support and team,” he says.

“Once we build a solid foundation — and we are on the way — then we can expand. We don’t want to expand faster than we can manage.”

NOW READ: Better for everyone: Meet the migrant entrepreneurs strengthening Australia’s startup ecosystem

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].