Our Story

Welcome Merchant is the liaison between refugee and people seeking asylum entrepreneurs and the wider community in Australia


Our mission is to elevate the voices of refugee and people seeking asylum entrepreneurs in Australia. Lack of connections and communication, as well as digital savviness often mean that many refugee-powered businesses in Australia operate in the dark and don’t receive the attention they deserve. As a social enterprise, Welcome Merchant acts as a directory, making it easy for conscious shoppers to find unique gift hampers and products and cultural events operated by underrepresented entrepreneurs, all while making a meaningful social impact.

We offer a free online directory and free skill-building workshops to refugee and people seeking asylum entrepreneurs. How do we fund our free services? Through our Gift Hampers and Curated Dining Events, facilitated in partnership with refugee entrepreneurs.

In 2022, our founder was named by Women’s Agenda as a Finalist for Emerging Leader in Non-Profit and nominated by Urban List as one of the “30 Faces Changing the World by 2030“. In 2021, we were nominated for Frankie Magazine’s Good Stuff Awards.

In January 2023, we were given accreditation by Social Traders Australia. We are also a proud recipient of the City of Parramatta’s Growing Social Enterprise Grant and look forward to running events there this year.

Marjorie Tenchavez
Founder and Director

Marjorie is a first-generation Australian, based in Gadigal Land/Sydney. Prior to starting Welcome Merchant in 2020, Marjorie has been working in the social justice space since 2011, at organisations like Metro Assist & Amnesty International Australia. She never saw herself as an entrepreneur until she realised that Welcome Merchant can be so much more than just an Instagram account. Marjorie has also completed a Master’s Degree in Human Rights & Democratisation, where her passion for migration rights became deeper. A passionate traveller, Marjorie has lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Milan, Italy and Istanbul, Turkey. She is obsessed with her cat, goats and dancing.

Welcome Merchant is up and running thanks to the constant support from our volunteers


Khyathi Khirbath
Facebook Engagement

Khyathi is a fierce feminist and advocates for equal rights for all. She is also a passionate digital marketer and enjoys all things creative. She is obsessed with her dog, board games and exploring the next best cafe/bar in town. She has been in Australia for over 8 years now but is still a true Indian at heart and can handle her spice and dance like there is no tomorrow. She considers herself to be fortunate to be part of the Welcome Merchant team and help empower refugees in all ways possible.

Cheyenne Bardos
Product Shoot & PR Support

Cheyenne volunteers her time by shooting Welcome Merchant’s hampers and assisting with Press Releases. Cheyenne was also our first volunteer e-newsletter writer. She is a first-generation Filipino immigrant whose family moved to Wagga Wagga, NSW, when she was seven years old. Now studying Commerce/Media (PR and Advertising) at UNSW, she loves photography, writing, and creative strategy. Her latest projects include producing editorial pieces spotlighting women of colour in the creative industry. She also loves cooking and eating her way around Sydney!

Mariia Zhuchenko
Events Management & Curating

Mariia is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, experienced Front of House manager and event producer. Her working methodology is dialogical and collaborative, and her practice is inspired by her Russian heritage, storytelling and placemaking. She completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours at USYD and a Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW. Mariia currently works as Sales Associate at Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney, where she manages client relationships and overseas art fair partnerships. As Deputy Chair, she contributes extensive knowledge of the food and hospitality sectors, visitor engagement and project management.

Poppy Burnett
Events Photographer

Poppy is a photographer, writer and arts worker living on unceded Gadigal land. She is currently studying towards being a qualified social worker, and working for Support Act (a charity delivering crisis relief services to Australian musicians and music workers). With Irish and Luxembourgish heritage, Poppy retains a deep connection to Europe, and lived in Barcelona for a year in 2019 where she learnt a lot about creative community organising and activism. Her hobbies include playing the banjo, ocean swimming, and doting on her dog. 

Jayden Hallett
Facebook Marketing

Jayden Hallett is Brisbane based Marketing and Global Studies graduate, with experience and passion for Non For Profit initiatives. Jayden has studied abroad, spending eight months in Verona, Italy, studying Global Business and recently returned from 6 months in Vancouver, Canada. Jayden has a commitment to, and a strong social justice perspective to making a difference. He will be assisting with Facebook advertising to help spread the organisation and our underlying mission. 

Ellie Stamelos
Blog Contributor

Ellie is a qualified English/History teacher and has experienced great fulfilment working with students and families from refugee and migrant backgrounds. She is passionate about feminism, equity and social justice in general, and have been writing/blogging about these topics for various Australian publications since her early 20s. She looks forward to joining the team at Welcome Merchant.

Arianna Lim
Events and Communications Support

Arianna is a Melbourne-based communications professional with a passion for fair food access. She has completed the Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne, where she focused on sustainable food systems and policy. Prior to this, she worked as an intern for Harlem Grown, a New York-based not-for-profit striving to improve nutritious food access and literacy among children. She’s originally from the Philippines and has spent much of her time in Australia working to vegetarianise Filipino cuisine. 

Tasneem Zavery
Newsletter Writer & PR Support

Tasneem is passionate about people and community  stories. A skilled storyteller, she has more than ten years of experience within national, and international media. She has worked, and gained work experience in the capacities of a print journalist, feature writer, content writer, copywriter and a community correspondent for radio.

Her family, and friends swear by her gooey brownies. Mum to a cheeky toddler, and an avid reader.

Her quest for sharing people stories continues…

Megan Tapia
Grants Researcher & Writer

Megan has spent the past fifteen years working in the higher education & research sector in London and Sydney. Her current management role at UNSW supports her development as an authentic and purposeful leader, motivated and energised by the positive social impact created by making responsible decisions through inclusive collaboration with diverse groups of stakeholders.

With a background in hospitality and complementary medicine, Meg has previously studied Business-Marketing & Remedial Massage and is currently completing a Health Science degree, as part of her life-long learning journey.

Practicing yoga and meditation, cat cuddles, and travel are some of her great joys.

Cristal Chovanec
Events Coordination

Cristal is an experienced administrative and events professional who is passionate about social justice and supporting local communities. She is inspired by people’s stories and cultural heritage, having lived abroad for a decade and traveling extensively during that time. She enjoys celebrating diversity through food, music, art and community engagement.

Katie Clinch
Events

Katie grew up in England, in 2010, she planned to travel across Australia for a year, but 12 years later, she’s still here. Katie has a deep passion for quality customer service, creating memorable moments and experiencing new cultures.

Katie has partnered closely with WM Founder Marjorie on several events over the past 5 years and is a very proud member of the WM community. When Katie’s not volunteering at WM events, she’s leading the team of Customer Success Managers at LinkedIN, eating donuts and catching up on her never ending reading list.

Emma Spiteri
Community Engagement & Events

Emma is passionate about equality, social justice and helping uplift local communities. With a background in customer service, student accommodation and event support, Emma loves to meet people from all walks of life. She is inspired by other people’s stories and enjoys learning & understanding different cultures. Emma studied event management and she believes in the importance of using events to build connection and elevate communities. 

Emma lives on Boon wurrung land in Naarm/Melbourne. She enjoys visiting art galleries, drinking chai and spending time with her family.

Mawghan Elverd
Community Engagement

Mawghan is a qualified librarian with a passion for research and connecting people with information and knowledge that will help them lead informed lives. Mawghan loves road trips to the Southwest of WA, her dachshund Thera, and Pinterest. She is very excited to engage with the refugee and asylum seeker entrepreneur community in Western Australia.

Lulu Dowell
Marketing

With a strong background in marketing and events, Lulu is a passionate advocate for human rights, feminism and racial justice, and wants to utilise her skills and knowledge to make a positive impact. Having spent many years traveling and living abroad, she values the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet people from all walks of life. Lulu holds a Bachelor of Business (Management) and an MBA (Marketing).

In her spare time, Lulu can be found walking her dog, immersing herself in nature, being active and spending time with friends and family. As a self-described food lover, she believes that the only thing better than a well-cooked meal is a perfectly-baked dessert.

Roshini Randeniya
Events Support

Roshini is a Sri Lankan Neuroscience researcher and educator based in Sydney. She’s passionate about ethics and equity. She loves exploring new places. Will get distracted by food and dogs.

Sasha Manusama
Web Content

Sasha is a content producer based in Melbourne. She has worked in various creative roles across different companies ranging from mid-sized startups to large national corporations. She’s passionate about refugee rights and is excited to get to know the asylum seeker entrepreneur community in Melbourne and right around Australia.

Sasha is known for dropping random (mostly useless) historical facts in conversations, and she’s always fueled by 2 coffees a day.

THANK YOU TO PREVIOUS VOLUNTEERS

Welcome Merchant would like to thank previous volunteers, Adriana Rey, Cam Gunns, Sofiah Fauzi, Rachel McCluskey, Kate O’ Donnell, Jarrad McCallum, Kandice Stern, Amro Zoabe, Brooklyn O’Connell, Lindy Ralph and Tess Fletcher.

Adriana was our very first volunteer & helped our founder, Marjorie, turn Welcome Merchant into a social enterprise with her business and marketing support.

Cam single-handedly built the original version of our website, despite not having much prior website design experience. His contribution to Welcome Merchant is immeasurable. Amro provided us with WordPress support.

Sofiah Fauzi helped us out with marketing, video, outreach and proofreading. She is a champ! Rachel is one of Marjorie’s good friends and is an events extraordinaire, she will be focusing on new motherhood this year. Kate briefly provided our team with graphic design support.

Jarrad volunteered with us for nearly 2 years, providing us with event flyers support. Kandice was with us for over a year and transformed our website into what it is now. She launched our new directory too. We will forever be indebted to her. Brooklyn, Lindy & Tess all contributed their excellent writing skills to our web content & blogs.

Want to volunteer with us? Get in touch!

Please email: hello@welcomemerchant.com

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we be featured on Welcome Merchant pages?

Simple! Reach us via our Contact page or email us: hello@welcomemerchant.com

Does my business have to have a social media account before it can be featured on Welcome Merchant?

No, we can still promote your business in our online directory and on our social media channels. We can also help set up your social media account for you!

How can I hire a refugee-owned business for my next event?

We can connect you to one! Please send us a message on our contact form or email us. 

Want to support the work we do?

Become our Patreon!

Welcome Merchant in the media