Parramatta entrepreneur earns spot in Obama Foundation Leaders Program

City of Parramatta Council Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer congratulates a Parramatta social entrepreneur for earning a place in the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program.

Usman Iftikhar, the co-founder and CEO of Parramatta-based social enterprise Catalysr, is among more than a dozen Australians heading to Malaysia next week for a five-day leadership program featuring talks by former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We are incredibly proud that Usman Iftikhar has been accepted to the highly-respected Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for a voice from Parramatta to be heard on a global stage,” Cr Dwyer said.

Catalysr is a six-month pre-accelerator program helping migrant and refugee entrepreneurs create their own start-ups. Since its launch in 2016, Catalysr has supported 181 “migrapreneurs” launch 50 businesses.

Council has provided Catalysr with funding and support through its Social Investment Program, Community Grants Program, Stronger Communities Fund, and Pitch For Good Parramatta event.

“Council is a proud partner of the Catalysr program, which has made a huge contribution to the Parramatta community and empowered numerous migrant and refugee entrepreneurs from Western Sydney. I wish Mr Iftikhar the very best,” Cr Dwyer said.

Mr Iftikhar, the 2018 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, said it was a privilege to be selected.

“I am very excited to hear that I have been accepted into this prestigious leaders program and can’t wait to join other leaders from across Asia-Pacific in Kuala Lumpur next week,” Mr Iftikhar, 29, said.

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