Interview with SBS Thai Division in Australia🎤

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Not in a million years I thought I'd be interviewed by a journalist, let alone by SBS Thai Division in Australia!

The interview was about my experience with NEIS ( Small business program run by the government) and my products. So how the heck did I get an interview? I'm part of the Thai Facebook community and I thought that NEIS would be a great thing if someone is looking to start their own business. I didn't want to gain anything personally. Just trying to be a good human being. Then a few weeks after a Thai journalist from SBS Thai contacted me about it and boom, it happened on 16 October 2021. The interview is all in Thai but you can read my interview in English down below 😁 A mini win for SoFur🏆

1. You mentioned that NEIS is similar to Centrelink/Jobseeker program but for people who want to start their small business. Would you mind explaining what the NEIS program require participants to do and what is the financial support?

Response: You need to have an idea of what business you want to start, research your target market, competitors and submit your application to NEIS. Once your application is approved, each week they will have a mentor to guide you on how to complete your business plan and whether your products/services would be viable or not. They will then let you know if you have been accepted into NEIS or not. The allowance is roughly $630/fortnightly.

2. Who are eligible for the NEIS program and financial support e.g. do you need to be a permanent resident or Australian citizen?


Participants must:

Be at least 18 years of age when you start your NEIS business.

Be allowed to legally work in Australia and must not be an overseas visitor on a working holiday visa or an overseas student studying in Australia.

Be available to work the required hours in your proposed NEIS business.

Have not received NEIS Assistance in the past year.

Not be an undischarged bankrupt. NEIS Allowance may be available to participants who are receiving an eligible Centrelink payment when the participant commences a business with NEIS. This payment is made to NEIS participants for the first 39 weeks after they commence the business. You do not have to be receiving a Centrelink payment to participate in NEIS, but you will not be eligible to receive NEIS Allowance.

3. What is your business idea did you have in order to be accepted in to NEIS. Prior to being accepted what level of business you need to be at e.g. registered business name, making profit already etc.

Response: I have a dog travel bed business where it can be a car booster and converted into a lie flat bed. The brand is called SoFur. My normal trade is a Travel agent but since covid hit I had to pivot and find something else to do. My product has been inspired by very own dog, Pixie as I want to work on something that I can get her involved with and as a dog owner I know how much money I spend on her.

I was fortunate enough that my partner has a business called FR33 EARTH where he sells wood watches and sunglasses so I got to learn how to run a small business from him whether it’s about marketing, wholesale, research, customer services etc. This definitely help with my NEIS study.

Participants in the training phase of the NEIS program can work and earn an income. If a participant is also receiving a Centrelink payment while working, they must report any income earned to Centrelink as it may affect their payment.

4. What businesses do the other NEIS participants are currently working on?

Response: Tea, Photography, Gift shop, Fitness, Mosaic table, Car parts.

5. When you are in the program what do the mentors teach you and how do you learn? Response: Due to covid19 we are learning via Zoom classes with around 30-40 students once a week. We get to learn how to put the business plan together, marketing, legal , finance, work place safety, setting goals, customer services and how to operate your business.

6. Some people may not be confident with their English, what level of English do you need to have including their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills Response: I’d say you have to be intermediate as there are lot of reading material. For the classes you will need to listen to your mentor and ask questions.

My English is not perfect and these days there are tools that you can use online to help you translate and whenever you don’t understand during your classes, your mentor will find another way to explain it to you until you understand. They are there to help you out.

7. Why do you think NEIS program is good for the general public?

Response: It’s great for someone who wants to start something for yourself with business mentors who can help guiding you through the process and also get financial support. It’s also good that you can network with other participants and support each other.

8. What have you taken from the NEIS program and what else do you think can be improved?

Response: Working on the business plan and financial report to see if my business is viable or not are the main things I have learnt. The financial support while building SoFur is also great as I don’t have too much pressure with sourcing income.

9. A lot of Thai people may already be conducting their businesses but focusing only the Thai market. What are your thoughts on having an open market in Australia and not only Thai? What are the pros and cons and challenges?

Response: I think that since you have a chance to come to Australia then you should try to learn and be open minded. It’s a great life experience and in Australia you don’t need to have a degree to make good money as long as you work hard. I think there are only pros when your customers can be anyone and you’d never know that non-Thai person could be someone who helps out your business grow. The challenges probably be you feel like you are out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to feel like that and you will grow as a person if you take that step forward. It’s also okay to fall, just pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and move forward.

10. Lastly what would you like to leave for the Thai community who want to start their own businesses but not confident enough to apply the NEIS program like yourself? Response: If I can do it, you can do it as well. I don’t know everything and if I need to do something that I don’t know, Youtube and Google are the best tools out there to help you out. All you have to do is start that first step and don’t get scared.

If you are going to start something, find what you are passionate about and make you happy so you won’t feel like it’s a job.

If you are not confident, ask yourself first what you are not confident in. Make a list and find a solution for it. For me whenever I feel tired, uninspired or not sure about something, I have a winning list to remind me of what I have achieved so far e.g. a client complimented me that I did a good job or I finished building my own website or a big retailer is interested in my product. So if I feel down, I just go back and read the list to remind me of how far I have come.

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