The road to business success at the Adelaide Central Market for Afghani trio

Last updated 22 June, 2023

Niamat, Ali and Muhammad say their “entrepreneurial spirit” was among the many qualities that helped them own a business in the city.

The trio opened McMahon's Fruit and Veg in the Adelaide Central Market, which remains open during the Central Market Arcade redevelopment, 10 years after seeking asylum from war-torn Afghanistan.

“The Adelaide Central Market is the heart of the CBD. I get to meet a lot of different people from different backgrounds — that’s why I love coming to work every day," Niamat says.

Drawing on their experiences in Afghanistan, they were able to continue the legacy of the Market stall, which has been around for more than 60 years.

“We had our own family farm in Afghanistan — we had sheep, cows and a range of fruit and vegetables.

“The only thing we ever had to buy from the grocery store was tea, sugar and gasoline for the lamps.”

Before taking over the fruit and vegetable shop, Niamat, Ali and Muhammad spent at least a decade running for their lives in their homeland.

They decided Australia was the best place to start their new life, however, their boat was intercepted on Christmas Island where they faced months of quarantine.

But their goal of owning a business never faded — they were fueled by the prospect of starting a new life.

“When our boat was intercepted at Christmas Island I actually felt a sense of relief that we could finally stop running,” Niamat says.

“They [officers] were nice to us, did all the check-ups — after that we were given shoes, clothes, water, and a bed to sleep in–something that I'll never take for granted.

“After being in quarantine for a week, (we) were detained for around 9 months.

“When we got out of detention … I felt like a human again.”

The trio faced a myriad of challenges and obstacles following their release, which included adapting to a new culture and building their life from scratch in a foreign land.

Despite the difficulties they encountered, their determination and resilience were key factors in starting their new, unfamiliar journey in Australia.

Niamat says becoming a business owner in the Adelaide CBD has been fulfilling, and it is an opportunity he will forever be grateful for.

This week, Sunday 18 June till Saturday 24 June 2023, is Refugee Week, which aims to raise awareness of the issues affecting refugees.

Find out more about McMahon’s Fruit and Veg here.

Image: Ali of McMahon's Fruit and Veg