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The Spice Exchange

General description of the good practice

The Spice Exchange program promotes multiculturalism in Australia whilst providing skill sets and work experience for migrant and refugee women.

The Spice Exchange is a social enterprise of Access Community Services Limited that utilises the culinary skills and traditions of refugee and migrant women to produce unique spice blends and condiments.

Main activities of the good practice

The Spice Exchange promotes multiculturalism by providing employment, training and work experience to culturally diverse women to develop their workplace skills and confidence in Australia. As well as a palpable sense of pride that accompanies the meals they prepare, getting together also provides women with an opportunity for laughter and shared experiences. More often than not, the stories and customs behind the dishes are as fascinating as the flavours. Through the passion that women have to share their food, Access Community Services identified an opportunity to develop a unique social enterprise that would utilise women’s existing skills from their country of origin. It’s these unique skills that have become a foundation for building employment opportunities, training and skills for women seeking to enter the Australian workforce.

Results of the good practice

With a growing market for multicultural food in Australia and a wonderful story to accompany, ‘The Spice Exchange’ was created. The outcomes being an operational social business model in line with Access Community Services’ organisational mission and vision, to create opportunities for individuals to become empowered and self-sufficient. The Spice Exchange has partnered with the Harmony on Carmody Café, another social enterprise of Access Community Services, to ensure all ingredients are fresh and sourced locally. The Spice Exchange is both a social enterprise and an employment training pathway program that provides practical skills and workplace experience. It allows women to gain experience in a culturally responsive workplace environment where they can learn employability skills and develop a greater understanding of Australian business practices.

Challenges in implementing the good practice and how they are being addressed

The main challenge of running the spice exchange program was the upfront costs involved and the availability of commercial kitchen space. As the business model was set up as a clients based order, at times there was not enough ample time to book and organise appropriate space to create the spices. In terms of logistics income for the employees were inconsistent due to the inconsistent demand and supply. Having gone through all these challenges the Spice Exchange Program will be built upon a stronger business model to overcome some of the challenges.

Some of the challenges that the refugee women faced were getting transport to the commercial kitchen, availability of time and future employment opportunities. To tackle these barriers, transportation was provided to pick up and drop off them women and the hours of work were set up mostly in the evenings to cater to most refugee women. The refugee women developed stronger knowledge on how to run a small business in Australia, developed confidence and were financially independent.


Click here to see a video of the spice exchange program.