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Aussie entrepreneur’s long term commitment to the road to prosperity in Timor-Leste

  • Written by Tess Sanders Lazarus

Like much of the world, Timor- Leste is facing a humanitarian crisis as a result of COVID. But unlike other nations, it is also dealing with catastrophic floods which have ravaged the small developing country causing significant loss of life, homes and infrastructure.

Tammy Kassiou, an Australian entrepreneur based in Dili, Timor-Leste, has pivoted her company’s resources to assist the local people recover from the devastation.

Ms Kassiou is the founder and chairperson of IMS, a Timor-Leste based business that provides employment services for government, international businesses and the education sector across the region.

“IMS is actively distributing resources and skilled volunteers to clean up and re-build East Timor’s communities that have been ravaged by COVID and devastating, deadly floods,” Ms Kassiou said.

“Over 48 hours on the Easter long weekend, East Timor experienced more than 400 millimetres of rain in its capital city of Dili alone. As floodwater and debris desolated highly populated regions, at least 42 people lost their lives and over 13,000 people were displaced. Timor-Leste as a country is already reeling with rising numbers of local COVID-19 cases. The combined threat of these two hazards is posing a significant challenge for the nation.

“The dangerous dynamic of the floods and the pandemic in Timor-Leste was intensified when the government was forced to lift the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place in order to support members of the community that needed to find refuge in overcrowded shelters and receive urgent medical help. The Timor-Leste population will continue to feel the repercussions of this humanitarian crisis for many months and even years.

“As proud members of the community, our team at IMS are using our resources to help the people of Timor-Leste recover as quickly and peacefully as possible. On the ground in Dili I have seen first- hand how devastating these floods have been. The community has been rocked and put in a terrifying situation. There are real risks that food and medical supplies could run out, and many homes need to be rebuilt.

“I have been living in Timor-Leste throughout the pandemic and have fallen in love with the people and the community. It is such a beautiful country, with bountiful resources and all the right ingredients to achieve economic prosperity, by investing in its most precious asset, human capital.”

IMS is a Timor-Leste registered company, based in Dili. Tammy founded the business to address the urgent need for semi-skilled and skilled workers to join the growing number of companies wanting to engage local people for their businesses in East Timor and internationally. IMS, through its partnership with Industry Safety Assessment and Training (ISAT), also founded and chaired by Kassiou, trains and upskills local people and assists them to find employment in line with its mission to support the economic prosperity of Timor-Leste by skilling its people to international standard. As a result, local people have a pathway to employment across a broad range of industries and are even able to gain the skills and support needed to pursue their own business start-up goals.

IMS and ISAT’s work provides important assistance to organisations undertaking business in the region by helping them to address local content needs, and employ appropriately skilled local workers. With locations in Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Pacific Islands, Philippines, Mozambique, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Greece and Europe, IMS boasts a global network of offices and business locations to meet a broad range of labour mobility needs.

“IMS’ mission since the company was founded has been to support the economic growth and social prosperity of Timor-Leste by developing sustainable workforces and small business. Our vision is to be the innovator in skilling, recruitment, employment and international worker solutions,” Ms Kassiou added.

“Even without these two disasters coexisting, the Timor-Leste population has already faced extraordinary disadvantage. The country has lacked adequate access to medical services, suffered through food shortages, and lives below the poverty line – which have only been magnified by the flooding and pandemic.

“In order to help rebuild the nation we have introduced the Timor-Leste Road to Prosperity Initiative. The first stage of the initiative involves focusing on the recovery efforts post-flooding and COVID-19. There has been extensive damage caused by the recent floods, and Timor-Leste requires skilled and competent people to assist with rebuilding roads, infrastructure and the economy.

“At IMS, we are leading a trade skills program in support of these activities, including building and construction, civil construction and business administration. We have developed a number of skills sets aligned to the recovery efforts, and ensure Timorese people are employed and gaining vital skills to most effectively help the locals impacted by the floods in Timor-Leste. As a long term solution, we believe this trade skills program will be invaluable to the community as they start taking steps to rebuild their homes and communities.

“In essence, we believe our program will equip people with the necessary skills and leadership capabilities to lead recovery efforts and mentor, train and develop others along the way – which is essential for sustainable growth.”

According to Kassiou, to complement their Timor-Leste Road to Prosperity Initiative, they have also distributed financial and equipment resources to aid in the recovery of victims of the devastating landslides, sort through and clear the debris, and distribute urgent food and medical supplies.

“The skilled nature of our workforce has meant that a number of people in our company have also dedicated their time offering hands-on support in distributing resources and assisting with community recovery and clean up. We have extensive international expertise for short and long-term projects, with our candidate database enabling us to swiftly select and recruit the most suitable personnel for tasks exactly like this one in the case of an emergency,” Ms Kassiou explained.

IMS is a member of the Jobcentral Global Skills, Jobs and Business Development Alliance, specialising in providing the full suite of workforce development, compliance and mobility labour placement and management solutions. In Timor-Leste, the government of Timor-Leste has sanctioned IMS as a contracting partner to provide labour mobility services.

ISAT collaborates with IMS to provide people with the skills and capabilities necessary for job readiness and career development.

ISAT supports participants to pursue independence and prosperity through developing people to achieve personal and business goals. ISAT provide quality training and competency governance, working with industry and stakeholders to deliver end to end international standard skills development, training and job opportunities globally.

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