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Successful with fast food

Waqas Hussain is happy to be able to build his own life in Pakistan.

Successful with fast food

My name is Waqas Hussain and I am 26 years old. I come from Butranwali, a small town in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. As a teenager, I lived with my mother and four sisters. I went to school and helped my family with farming. My older brother went to Greece to work and send money home. Because we never had enough to live on despite everything, I went to work in Turkey in 2013. I scraped by with different jobs for a year, including at a fish market, then I followed my brother to Greece. Because I wanted a real perspective, I travelled on to Germany in 2015.

There I found work in a restaurant and as a newspaper delivery boy. Then my mother fell ill in Pakistan – so in 2019 I decided to go back home. Fortunately, friends recommended that I seek support for my return and reintegration. I then visited a return counselling centre in Germany, where they put me in touch with the Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) in Lahore.

The young owner behind the counter of his restaurant.

I considered opening a restaurant or a billiard hall in my hometown after returning to Pakistan. I discussed both ideas with my advisor at the PGFRC. He recommended that I use my experience, and advised me to open a restaurant. I also prepared a feasibility study together with the counselling team to analyse whether my plan had any chance of success.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) organised my return journey, and I received financial support through the REAG/GARP programme (Reintegration and Emigration Program for Asylum-Seekers in Germany/Government Assisted Repatriation Program) as well as through the ERRIN programme, which supports business start-ups. I returned to Pakistan in December 2019.

Restaurant owner and businessman: Waqas Hussain.

I found the perfect place for my restaurant near the motorway and the main marketplace in Butranwali, so I rented it. With some financial support from IOM, my own savings and loans from my brother and friends, I fitted the place out. My fast food restaurant serves everything from burgers and pizza to shawarma. I currently have three full-time employees.

So I had high hopes, but then came the corona pandemic. Shortly after I opened, the government announced a lockdown and I had to close. This was totally unexpected, and caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. I had financial worries, and didn't want to lose my staff and the restaurant. So I carried on paying wages and rent.

During this time I was often in touch with the PGFRC, and went to a business development training session there. The seminar was very informative, and I learnt how to get my restaurant through the crisis. For example, I introduced a delivery service. This actually increased my turnover.

I also found out which dishes were particularly popular. I found out that selling pizza wasn’t so profitable. So I sold my pizza oven, and started a cooperation with a pizzeria so I could still meet the orders of my customers. At the moment, I am in the process of setting up a grill station in my restaurant. The Mojaz Foundation, a partner organisation of the PGFRC, will also support me in kind so that I can make up for the losses caused by the pandemic.

Before I left Germany, I was very worried about what my future in Pakistan would hold for me and my family. I am grateful for the support that I received and still receive from the PGFRC. I am still in regular contact with the advisors.

As of: 07/2021

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I am grateful for the support that I have received and continue to receive.
Waqas Hussain

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