Monday, January 17, 2005


African refugees who have experienced war, torture, and imprisonment are working hard to rebuild their lives and provide for their families in Australia.

The United Wood Cooperative (UWC) has been formed by a group of African-Australian men who now reside in North Melbourne and the Flemington area. The aim of the group is to create employment for the new migrants and refugees.

The principal objective of the UWC is to assist the resettlement of the new arrivals; helping them to become more familiar with life in Australia and the systems and methodologies employed by successful western commercial business operators. It is an excellent experiment in enterprise education - an experiment that has already yielded some positive results.

The project is supported by Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES)and the Ministry of Community Services and Housing.

The goal is financial self-sufficiency for the participants and the long-term economic sustainability of the African community in Australia.

As a cooperative enterprise, the UWC is noted for its operational efficiency and product excellence. It makes everyday items of great interest to the new arrivals: beds and furniture at a price that is affordable to people on low income.

The UWC product line is based on the need of the new settlers, and reflects African creativity and ingenuity. The organization makes fantastic, durable “planter boxes” from recycled hardwood timber. The “planter boxes” are available in a range of natural wood colours and are popular as great gifts ideas and garden accessories.

And there is a growing demand for UWC products.

Indeed, the achievements of the organization at this stage must be noted. It is probably true to say that the UWC has laid a good foundation for the resettlement of new migrants and for the development and growth of African capitalism in Australia.

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