An Australian who helps refugees start their own businesses has received an award from the Commonwealth’s newly appointed youth ambassador, Prince Harry.
Usman Iftikhar from Sydney was named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year at a ceremony in London.
“It’s really unreal,” he said. “To be up on stage, meeting with His Excellency Prince Harry – it feels absolutely amazing.”
Mr Iftikhar is the co-founder of Catalyst, a service that provides refugees and other migrants with mentoring, networking and financial connections so they can turn a business idea into a reality.
His success stories include an Egyptian food-truck owner and a 3D printing expert.
The service was partially inspired by his own experience.
He arrived in Australia from Pakistan in 2013 with an engineering degree, but struggled to find employment.
“This was almost out of my own frustration of not being able to cut through the system,” he said.
Mr Iftikhar said migrants who successfully launched businesses were likely to feel a connection with Australian society.
“A lot of people find meaning in their life through their work,” he said.
“Having access to meaningful work, you feel like you’re part of the community.”
Prince Harry ‘grateful’ for Meghan’s help
Prince Harry’s appointment as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador came from the Queen herself.
The Prince, 33, said he would travel through the UK and Commonwealth nations, listening to young people.
“My duty will be to ensure that your ideas, concerns, thoughts and hopes are heard,” he told delegates at the Commonwealth Youth Forum.
He said he would be supported by his fiancee Meghan Markle.
“I am also incredibly grateful that the woman that I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work in which she too is incredibly excited to take part in,” he said.
The pair will marry at Windsor Castle on May 19.