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Entrepreneurial spirit and tradition

Nadeem in his fabric outlet

Entrepreneurial spirit and tradition

My name is Nadeem. I’m 57 years old and come from Jhelum, which is a small city in the Pakistani Province of Punjab. In 2015 I left my family to seek work and better opportunities in Germany. But I never really managed to settle in there. After 5 years of poorly paid jobs, I’m now back in Pakistan and running a clothing business in Jhelum. The Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) helped me to set it up.

The only reason why I’m now an entrepreneur with my own store is because of the amount of preparation I did. It all started in Germany when a friend in Frankfurt am Main told me about a return counselling centre. My advisor there put me in touch with a reintegration scout who then prepared a needs analysis. My advisor used this to explain the opportunities available to me in Pakistan. I was relieved even after that first meeting, because I knew I’d soon be back home with my family.

Contact with Pakistan from Germany

Even before I left Germany, I got to know a PGFRC advisor through the return advisory service there. He was in touch from Lahore to prepare me for my new start and continued to help me after my return. He encouraged me to start my own business. His suggestion was that I should first complete the StartHope@Home programme in Germany. This programme assists refugees and migrants to start businesses in their country of origin. It was the first of many training courses in Germany and Pakistan that got me ready for my new start.

PCFRC advisors helped me to contact the International Organization for Migration (IOM). They in return supported me through REAG/GARP programme (Reintegration and Emigration Program for Asylum-Seekers in Germany / Government Assisted Repatriation Program) during my journey back home and during my first few weeks in Pakistan. The advisor also suggested that I apply for funding from the European Return and Reintegration Network ERRIN Business Start-up Plus scheme. The PGFRC advisor also explained how I could use ERRIN Business Start-up Plus funding for my business. ERRIN helped me with contributions in kind to start my business. 

Nadeem (on the right) and Faisal Shabbir, a PGFRC advisor

The fabric for a new garment

Customers in Pakistan initially buy the fabric for their traditional clothing without any cutting or embroidery. In the stores, the fabric sits on so-called thaan – huge rolls of fabric. People order as much fabric as they need for their garment. Then they give the fabric to a darzi, a tailor, who sews the clothing from it. I follow this tradition and sell the fabrics, but I don’t sew the clothes myself.

The pandemic as well as rising inflation at home have meant that people's purchasing power has significantly reduced, which has a negative impact on my business. Because of this I'm attempting to expand my product range and buy goods directly from the producers. This way, I save on shipping and delivery costs. The PGFRC also put me in touch with the Mojaz Foundation, which can assist me with any more in-depth strategic questions I might have regarding my business.

The Mojaz Foundation organised a four-day training course on business development, which I was able to take part in. It taught me how to create an investment plan. It also helped me to think strategically about my business and to consider the options for expanding it. After the training course, I decided to set up a mobile phone accessories counter in my clothing shop. The Mojaz Foundation assisted me with contributions in kind by providing the mobile phone accessories I needed for my new shop display.

New ideas on marketing via social media

The PGFRC has also recently been showing me how I can benefit from using social media to give my business an extra boost. Now I know how best to market my products online, and my sales via WhatsApp are increasing. The ongoing support I’m getting from the PGFRC motivates me in my work. The training courses and counselling make me feel confident that I can deal with the latest challenges.

Date: 07/2021

The opportunities for advice and assistance described here are offered as part of “Returning to New Opportunities”.

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The only reason why I’m now an entrepreneur with my own store is because of the amount of preparation I did.

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