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 entrepreneurs who identify as a refugee or as a person seeking asylum 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 January 2023, we were given accreditation by Social Traders Australia. We are also a proud recipient of the City of Parramatta’s 2023 Growing Social Enterprise Grant.

In 2023, WM Founder Marjorie Tenchavez was named as one of the NSW Humanitarian Award Recipients by STARTTS & Refugee Council of Australia and “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” by Third Sector Awards.

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.

Marjorie Tenchavez
Founder and Director

Marjorie is a proud first-generation Australian from a Filipina background, based in Cangal & Wangal Lands/Inner West Sydney.

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Prior to starting Welcome Merchant in 2020, Marjorie had 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 a Master’s Degree in Human Rights & Democratisation, where her passion for migration rights became deeper. A passionate traveller, Marjorie has also lived in Colombo (Sri Lanka) Milan (Italy) and Istanbul (Turkey). She is obsessed with her cat, goats, dancing and good food.

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

Arianna Lim
Events Photography

Arianna is a Melbourne-based communications professional with a passion for fair food access.

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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

Tasneem is a skilled storyteller, passionate about people and community stories.

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Tasneem 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 rerader.

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.

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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.

Poppy Burnett
Events Photographer

Poppy is a photographer, writer and arts worker living on unceded Gadigal land.

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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 is a Brisbane-based Marketing and Global Studies graduate, with experience and passion for NFP initiatives.

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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

Ellie is a qualified English/History teacher and has experienced great fulfilment working with students and families…

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…. 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.

Emma Spiteri
Community Engagement & Events

Emma is passionate about equality, social justice and helping uplift local communities.

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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.

Cheyenne Bardos
Product Shoot & PR Support

Cheyenne volunteers her time by shooting Welcome Merchant’s hampers and assisting with Press Releases.

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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.

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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.

Cristal Chovanec
Events Coordination

Cristal is an experienced administrative & events professional who’s passionate about social justice and supporting local communities.

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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

Katie grew up in England, and in 2010, she planned to travel across Australia for a year, but 12 years later, she’s still here.

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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.

Lulu Dowell

With a strong background in marketing and events, Lulu is a passionate advocate for human rights, feminism and racial justice…

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…and she 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.

Melissa Chen
Events Support

Mel is a lawyer with many years experience working in the community and government legal sector.

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She is currently the Senior Lawyer at the Australian Centre for International Justice, which pursues avenues for accountability and redress in relation to serious violations of human rights. Mel is a big foodie, loves boxing and pilates, and is a regular library bookworm.

Sasha Manusama
Web Content

Sasha is a content producer based in Naarm/Melbourne.

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She has worked in various creative roles across mid-sized startups and 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.

Roshini Randeniya
Events Support

Roshini is a Sri Lankan Neuroscience researcher and educator based in Sydney.

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She’s passionate about ethics and equity. She loves exploring new places. Will get distracted by food and dogs.

Maham Malik
Web Content

Maham is a web content writer, copywriter and graphic designer based in Melbourne.

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After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Media Sciences (Advertising) from Pakistan, she had the opportunity to work as a freelance writer and designer with various people across the globe. She is very thrilled to create content and engage with the refugee and asylum seeker entrepreneur community!

Her downtime involves having chai, shopping, working out and going out to discover new eateries around the city.

Rochelle Gunn

Rochelle is a Perth based freelance writer with a passion for sustainable living and wellness.

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She uses her writing to inspire others to lead more mindful and environmentally conscious lifestyles, exploring topics such as natural skincare and tiny homes.

With a background in the higher education and research sector, Rochelle spent many years welcoming international PhD students to Perth and helping them adjust to life in a new country.

Rochelle has studied abroad in Indonesia and travelled extensively throughout South East Asia. She spends her downtime playing with her pup Emi, reading cookbooks but never making anything from them and seeking out waterfalls on scenic hikes.

Nrutya Sangdhore

Nrutya is currently working as a Receptionist where she has the privilege of meeting people from diverse backgrounds.

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She graduated from Macquarie University with a degree in Communications and then decided to further her studies in Digital and Social Media, Professional Publishing and Writing through Curtin University. Her downtime revolves around blogging, hanging out with her dog, working out, shopping and listening to music.

Sara Bamford
Events Support

Sara is a qualified nutritionist based in Naarm/Melbourne. Having worked in various communities across Australia…

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…Sara is passionate about health equity and supporting community connection.

She is currently completing studies in dietetics and loves the beautiful way that food can bring people together and foster learning across cultures. Her other passions include travelling, hiking and seeking out flaky pastries!

Marielle Punzal
PR Campaign

Marielle has a background in PR, marketing and publishing. She discovered a passion for beauty when she interned for a beauty site…

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…and has her work published in a variety of beauty publications. She has also worked on the PR and Marketing side for luxury beauty brands and champions diversity and inclusivity in the beauty industry. Her passions include reading, writing, makeup, skincare and spending time with family, friends and her dog, Maisy.

Urvashi Sekaram
Events Support

Urvashi is a digital business analyst currently working at a venture studio, where she collaborates with early-stage tech founders…

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…to build digital products using agile, human-centered design approaches. Her passion for emerging technologies and their potential to drive social innovation has inspired her to find ways to share her knowledge and time in the non-profit space. As a born traveler and adventurer, she can often be found planning her next remote working destination or immersing herself in Melbourne’s art and cultural scene.

Samuel Kostevc

Samuel is a cinematographer based in Melbourne, Australia. His work specialises in intimate, human stories…

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…often told through the format of documentary and commercial. 

Prioritising the perspectives first and foremost of those on the other side of the lens, Samuel is interested in exploring more ways of seeing a diverse range of stories presented in a dignifying and empowering way where the human experience is front and centre, told in beautiful, moving frames. Check out Samuel’s work here.

Madhavi Sekaram
Events Support

Madhavi is a lawyer at Slater and Gordon and currently works in civil child abuse claims for First Nation Elders.

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Her areas of focus lie in human rights law, international policy and social justice.  She grew up in Sri-Lanka, and is now based in Naarm/ Melbourne.

Fernanda Priego
Events Support

Graphic Designer, pickle lover, frustrated singer, skywatcher and, according to her mum… she is also a good person.

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Moving from Mexico to Australia almost 10 years ago Fernanda’s journey has been full of contrast. From working in a gelato store, a multinational tech startup, and became the face of ‘the best pizza cooking classes’ on the front page of an Adelaide newspaper. Her biggest passion has always been meeting new people, listening to their stories, and gaining new perspectives on life.A naturally curious creature who’s always looking to fulfil her eagerness to learn, explore, and expand while her inner child takes command… once in a while.

Rima Ramdani
Community Engagement

Rima Ramdani is a dedicated individual with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

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Hailing from Algeria, she has lived in three diverse countries – the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Australia, and is fluent in Arabic, English, and French. Rima’s passion lies in community mental health and refugee support.

Currently, Rima serves as a Multicultural Support Officer at Settlement Services International, where she aids refugees and people seeking asylum in their settlement journey.

Additionally, she contributes her efforts as a Youth Worker at an Aboriginal Family Service called Nghadi. Rima’s exceptional patience and commitment to helping others are driving forces behind her mission to create positive change in people’s lives.

Marian Muru
Community Engagement

For the last 4 years, Marian has been working as a Program Coordinator for an NGO in Papua New Guinea.

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She obtained a Graduate Diploma of Social Science at James Cook University in Townsville, North Queensland in 2010.

In Townsville, she volunteered with the Townsville Multicultural Centre to assist the people seeking asylum and refugees to settle in Australia, teaching them the history of Australia, basic health and hygiene and other important information about their transition into Australian ways. Currently, she is studying a Master of Development Studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. She did an internship with the Multicultural Women Victoria remotely from November 2023 – April 2024.


Welcome Merchant would like to thank our previous volunteers, Adriana Rey, Cam Gunns, Sofiah Fauzi, Rachel McCluskey, Kate O’ Donnell, Jarrad McCallum, Kandice Stern, Amro Zoabe, Brooklyn O’Connell, Lindy Ralph, Tess Fletcher, Hugh Van Schaick, Khyathi Khirbath, Mawghan Elverd & Ellie Stamelos.

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