Take note next time you meet an international student who is struggling with their English, because they may just be one of Australia's future business leaders.
This was certainly the case with Brazilian-born Carlos Ferri, a serial entrepreneur who in the space of just over a decade has built an empire of successful high-growth companies with services in transport, logistics, warehousing, HR and labour hire.
All under the banner of Zapala Corp, Ferri's enterprises have a global presence, meet untapped needs, are scalable and lift the efficiency of the industries they're in.
These are just a few reasons why he received the Sydney Young Entrepreneur Award 2019 tonight, edging ahead of worthy competitors across a wide range of fields
Now in their second year for Australia's largest city, the gala awards were held at The Establishment to recognise and celebrate Sydney's leading businesspeople under 40.
The initiative unearthed more than 60 nominees who collectively turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year while creating jobs across the country and abroad.
One of Ferri's well-known business is Zapala Go, which develops software for the transport, logistics, freight forwarding and warehousing industries.
But the Zapala family is much larger than that, also including Zapala People specialising in HR software and labour hire, Zapala Fleet in the GPS space, supply chain management tool Shipeezi, and Educafy as an online platform for international students.
"Ten years ago I made the decision to come to Australia from Brazil and decided to learn English. I realised about 12 months in my English was getting better and I made a decision to start up Zapala," Ferri tells Business News Australia.
"10 years later we have more than 100 employees in Australia, Singapore and Brazil."
The group's financial performance has seen rapid growth recently as well. In its first year of operation the startup Shipeezi was able to sign up the likes of Country Road, David Jones and Coles; the latter for the dispatch and logistics of the Little Shop campaign.
Ferri also intends to expand the scope of Zapala People into the U.S. and Brazilian markets to service the agricultural sector.
"Each company has its own challenges and each one competes in the same way - I try to focus on the industries where I can make money," he says.
"Zapala Fleet I know it's important where I can prove to my clients having less trucks on the road is more efficient.
Meanwhile, Educafy is a pet project offering support Ferri wishes he had when he came to Australia, helping international students with ABNs and work, health funds, banks, connecting them with universities, and all the other practical challenges that come with trying to make something of yourself in a new country.
"When they arrive in the country we open bank accounts for them, prepare tax file numbers and we do a welcome session," he says.
"Australia is becoming the first option for APAC (Asia-Pacific) student seekers - I was an international student myself and I would never have believed I would work for that."
All winners at the 2019 Sydney Young Entrepreneur Awards
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Carlos Ferri (Zapala Go)
- Trailblazer of the Year - Leigh Rust & Nathan Rust (Safetyline Jalousie)
- Arts & Culture - Emilya Colliver (Art Pharmacy Consulting)
- Digital Disruptor - Blake Garrett (School Bytes)
- Fashion Design - Emily Kate Symes (EKOLUV)
- Finance - Ayda Shabanzadeh & Darrin Leung (Grow Group)
- Food & Beverage - Drew Bilbe & Troy Douglas (Nexba)
- Health & Fitness - Layton Mills (CannPal Animal Therapeutics)
- Legal - Alex Solo & Tomoyuki Hachigo (SPRINTLAW)
- Manufacturing, Wholesale & Distribution - Anson Zhang & Jeff Yu (One Stop Warehouse)
- PR & Media - Alison Green (Pantera Press)
- Professional Services - Carlos Ferri (Zapala Corp)
- Property & Construction - James Meagher (MAX Build)
- Retail & Services - Ammar Issa (AMR Hair & Beauty Supplies)
- Specialist Services - Steven Lampsakianos (Alphatex Industries)
- Startup - Alex Bottomley & Marcus Kellett (Ampersand Projects)
- Technology - Salpi Baroudjian & Jacob Markarian (OWEST)
Business News Australia