Making a difference through entrepreneurialism

Founder of Parwana, Durkhanai Ayubi, won the 40 Under 40 Social Impact Award, for her work in telling the important stories of migrants to Australia and championing their contribution to the nation.

Jun 17, 2022, updated Jun 17, 2022
Durkhanai Ayubi, winner of the Community Corporate Social Impact Award in 2022. Photo: Morgan Sette.

Durkhanai Ayubi, winner of the Community Corporate Social Impact Award in 2022. Photo: Morgan Sette.

Carmen Garcia, founder of Community Corporate, 40 Under 40 judge, and sponsor of the Social Impact award was particularly moved by founder of famed Adelaide restaurant Parwana’s talent to tell stories through food.

“Her ability to use the universal language of food has been a powerful vehicle in influencing the conversation on diversity and the plight of refugees, a cause very close to our hearts at Community Corporate, by seeking to open minds, and open doors to the possibility of a greater sense of social justice and inclusion for our newest Australians,” Garcia said.

Durkhanai Ayubi, 37, a first-generation migrant to Australia set up Parwana in Torrensville 13 years ago, serving traditional Afghan cuisine with recipes passed down by her mother. The restaurant has since flourished and expanded with Ayubi opening other outlets and going on to publish her wildly successful cookbook Parwana: Recipies and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen.

During the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban rule last year, Ayubi organised the Parwana for Afghanistan fundraiser and successfully raised more than $180,000 to aid those affected by the conflict.

“We knew we had to do something in support of those in Afghanistan. For me, it was always going to be through hospitality,” said Ayubi.

“We have built our community ties with so many in Adelaide through our cuisine, and so it was a natural way to create a space of healing and collectiveness.”

She also has a favourite meal to serve at her restaurant, which has become one of its most popular dishes.

“Banjan Borani – the eggplant dish at Parwana, which I make and talk about with various people, a lot!” she said.

Garcia said it was much more than her business success that stood out.

“Her unwavering courage and commitment to influence change and play a pivotal part in leading the narrative on the significant contribution migration and diversity has brought to this country made Durkhanai a stand out to us for this award,” she said.

Ayubi said that as a first-generation migrant to Australia, her vision is to contribute to the community she is part of in a way that enables her to serve as a conduit, between the cultures that define her across Afghanistan and Australia.

“I am motivated to share with my community something deeper and broader about Afghanistan, to help shift the narratives around it at a foundational level in order to create greater understanding, to open pathways for recovery and lasting peace, and to engender a sense of justice.”

Ayubi now joins the 200 alumni of South Australia’s 40 Under 40, a leadership network that is gaining influence across the state.

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