A free Stepping Stones to Small Business program has helped several refugee and migrant women launch their own businesses, including Yeni Atencio.

The Maribyrnong resident, who emigrated from Peru nine years ago, completed the program last year.

Run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Stepping Stones provides training and mentoring to support women to develop new skills and increase their participation in business and the community.

While Ms Atencio, pictured, is a qualified IT specialist, she has also established her own small business. She began by making custom t-shirts, and has now expanded into promotional clothing, as well as hoodies and singlets for children and adults.

“I’m so grateful for Stepping Stones,” she said.

“I could not figure out how to set up my business with an ABN, buying machines, stock of clothing and not knowing the right channels through which to sell my products.”

The Stepping Stones program will start in Hoppers Crossing next month. Workshops will be held at the Wyndham Youth Resource Centre each Thursday for 15 weeks from May 30, between 9.30am–3pm. Free childcare will be provided.

Details: bsl.org.au/steppingstones or 9422 5650.