Fotis Kapetopoulos, then head of the Multicultural Arts Professional Development program (MAPD), now a journalist with Neos Kosmos, recalled his time with the late Carla Zampatti AC on a delegation to China in 2006 organised by the Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF) .

“Carla Zampatti was extraordinarily stylish, graceful and very intelligent, she worked hard to build business links between the emerging independent Chinese fashion and design industry in China and Australia” he said.

“She was also a very strong supporter of multiculturalism and sought to promote the talents of culturally diverse Australians.”

As part of the recognition for her work in the promotion of multiculturalism and innovation the AMF launched the Carla Zampatti Scholarship last week.

Sofia Abel, 19, was announced as the winner of the inaugural Australian Multicultural Foundation Carla Zampatti Scholarship for Young Women. The scholarship was announced at the Museo Italiano in Carlton.

Ms Abel, the young designer will have $10,000 to contribute to extending the sustainability qualities of her handmade apparel business, Cienti The Label.

This will allow Ms Abel to set up the rentable arm of her collection to further reduce the environmental footprint and upskilling her business acumen.

Alexander Schuman, Carla’s son, and CEO of Carla Zampatti Fashion said he was “delighted that Sofia has won the inaugural Carla Zampatti scholarship.”

“Her story is so similar to my mother’s and Sofia shows a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering determination that belies her age.”

He said that her determination has allowed her to overcome all the language and cultural barriers that exist for non-English speaking migrants.

“Sofia has a very bright future and I’m sure she will be a trailblazer for the next generation of young businesswomen,” said Mr Schuman.

Dr Hass Dellal OA the director of the AMF talking to Neos Kosmos, said that the winner’s story not dissimilar to the scholarship’s inspiration, the late Carla Zampatti AC.

“Sofia emigrated to Australia from Bolivia with her parents at the age of eight with no English and community.

“Just nine years later, at only 17, this savvy digital native launched her designs on Tik Tok and Instagram – both of which helped her grow a community of conscious consumers.”

The mindset of the teenage entrepreneur was to build the antithesis of today’s fast fashion e-commerce brands which are notoriously low on cost yet questionably harmful for the environment.

Sofia was one of three finalists who presented community minded business plans. The distinction prize has been awarded to humanitarian refugee from Togo, in West Africa, Natacha Adanlessossi, who runs an Afro-hair styling business, Afro – Hair by Natacha, from her Ballarat home.

Natacha will receive $5,000 to go towards purchasing more styling products for her business and undertaking a mentorship to increase her digital, technology and financial acumen. And a commendation has been awarded to humanitarian refugee from Iraq, Raneen Shamon, 22, who runs art workshops in Sydney. Her prize includes a mentorship organised by the AMF.