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A versatile businessman

Shakir sells a wide range of products in his shop.

A versatile businessman

My name is Shakir. I’m 45 years old and come from Sarai Alamgir, which is a small town in the Gujrat district of Pakistan. I’m married and have five children. I used to work in construction and earned a good wage. But I wanted to create a better life for my family, so I left for Germany in 2015. I spent five years there working as a farmhand raising cattle on a farm. But it came to the point where I couldn't cope with being separated from my family any more, so in 2020 I came back to Pakistan.

I went to the local return counselling centre, and explained that I need help with starting my own business in Pakistan. The return counsellor set up a Skype call to put me in touch with the team at the Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) in Lahore. We discussed my ideas for a general store: I also wanted to sell school uniforms and writing materials as well as food. The advisors created a list for me that included potential suppliers and suitable rental properties. 

The owner standing at the entrance to his shop.

The training course gave some structure to my plans

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranged my return journey to Pakistan, and gave me financial assistance via REAG/GARP (the Reintegration and Emigration Program for Asylum-Seekers in Germany / Government Assisted Repatriation Program). I arrived back in Pakistan in February 2021, and visited the PGFRC shortly afterwards. I had some in-depth discussions with the advisors about my business idea. Among other things, they recommended that I take part in the business development and employability skills training. 

The training course gave some structure to my plans. I learnt about the next steps I needed to take to set up my business. I also learnt how to successfully run my business for the long term. The training also taught me that it’s important to find out what products are in demand in the local area. After doing some research, I decided to add women’s shoes to my product range and to buy a flour milling system. This means customers can have their flour milled directly in the shop.

Two other shops opened

I was finally ready in June 2021, and opened a shop in my home town. My customers can now find everything they need for everyday life right in the centre of Sarai Alamgir. I’m still developing my business, but I’ve already started to grow a loyal customer base. In the meantime, I’ve also opened two other shops selling vegetables and school uniforms.

The impact of the pandemic on the Pakistani economy has affected my turnover. But I’m confident that the situation will soon improve. Before I left Germany I was really worried what the future would hold for me in Pakistan, though the advice and help I got from the PGFRC made it possible for me to get my business up and running not long after I returned. I’m still in regular contact with the PGFRC. The advisory team recently put me in touch with their partner organisation, the Mojaz Foundation. It’s going to help me buy goods for my business. 

I now know that even when I’m faced with challenges, there’s always a solution. I've seen that you can make your dreams come true with the right guidance, hard work and commitment.

As of: 08/2021

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

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I’m still developing my business, but I’ve already started to grow a loyal customer base.

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