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Tailored support for successful self-employment

Nabi produces items of clothing in his tailor shop, such as T-shirts, trousers and socks.

Tailored support for successful self-employment

My name is Nabi Ahmed and I’m 35 years old. I come from Sialkot, a city in Punjab province, Pakistan. I spent eight years working as a tailor in my home city, but in 2008 I decided to leave Pakistan in search of better opportunities. After two years in Greece I travelled on to Germany. I spent most of my time there working as a chef in a restaurant. Then my mother became ill, so in 2021 I decided to come back to Pakistan.

Discovering my options in Pakistan

I was given support with my return while I was still in Germany. My return advisor from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die eine Welt (AGDW e. V.) informed me about the programmes that provide help to people who want to go back to their home countries. He helped me intensively with the preparation of my return and connected me to the reintegration scout from GIZ, who explained the services provided by the Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) in Lahore and introduced me to my contact there. 

This meant that I could get to know my advisor at the PGFRC via video link even before my return. He told me about the opportunities available to me in Pakistan. I soon had the idea of becoming self-employed as a tailor. I already had experience in tailoring, so I didn't need any extra training in Germany beforehand. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) supported me financially with the travel costs. I came back to Pakistan in June 2021.

Well prepared for my new start as an entrepreneur

I visited the PGFRC in Lahore right after I got back, and then took part in a training course on how to start a business. This training course gave me the preparation I needed to run my own business. It included aspects like personnel management, inventory, order processing, bookkeeping and liability issues. The Mojaz Foundation, a PGFRC partner organisation, provided me with a sewing machine to help me set up my business.

The team of advisors at the PGFRC helped me to create a business plan for my tailor shop. They also gave me a feasibility study, which clearly indicates that there is a high demand for tailored clothing.

I used the business plan as the basis for opening my small tailor shop in November 2021. I rented a property on the main street in Sialkot. The financial support I got from the IOM enabled me to set up my workshop and employ five tailors. It also meant I could buy all the equipment I need to tailor clothes to order.

Nabi is an entrepreneur and manager. He employs five tailors in his tailor shop.

My business produces items of clothing like tracksuits, T-shirts, trousers, hats and socks. Many local clothing manufacturers in Sialkot want to outsource their sewing and tailoring. These are the services I provide, so I soon had my first order from a local factory. Now my customer base includes both factories and retailers. This is where my many years of professional experience come in useful. I also have my own local network of friends and family members, which can be useful in attracting new customers.

Sticking at it and continuing to develop

I found the tips from the business training course to be very helpful, and I’m constantly thinking about how I can improve my tailor shop. I’ve set up an account with a sales platform, for example, which has got me my first international order for over 300 items of clothing. Networking is important. That’s why I arrange regular meetings with local retail outlets. I’ve been successful in using my sales experience to consolidate contacts and obtain new orders.

A finished garment is the result of many small steps.

I’ve also got myself a new source of income. I buy second-hand clothes from Lahore and resell them at the local Sunday market in Sialkot. I also see other opportunities for expanding my business and attracting new customers.

I’ve learned never to give up

I had one major concern when I was thinking of leaving Germany: how I would be able to earn a living in Pakistan and feed my family. I was fortunate that the support I got from the PGFRC made my return very easy. The advice I got there and that I still get has given me two things. Firstly, I’ve started my own business and can take care of my family. And secondly, I’ve improved my self-confidence and strengthened my determination. I’ll keep working towards being successful. I’m highly motivated as an entrepreneur, and I've found new courage.

As of: 02/2022

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

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Support for Nabi’s return home

Those involved in Nabi’s successful return include:

This training course gave me the preparation I needed to run my own business.

Other experiences