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Successful with my own restaurant

Ein Mann sitzt in einem Restaurant an einem Tisch.
Waqas Hussain is happy to be able to build his own existence in Pakistan.

Successful with my own restaurant

My name is Waqas Hussain and I am 26 years old. I come from Butranwali, a small town in the Punjab province of Pakistan. As a teenager, I lived with my mother and four sisters. I attended school and helped my family with farming. My older brother went to Greece to work and send money home. Because we always had too little to live on despite everything, I went to Turkey in 2013 to work. I scraped by for a year with jobs, 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 return. 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. I was very happy to have a contact person in Pakistan who would continue to accompany me.

Ein Mann steht hinter der Theke eines Restaurants.
The young owner behind the counter of his restaurant.

I considered opening a restaurant or a billiards joint in my hometown after returning. I discussed both ideas with my advisor at the PGFRC. He recommended that I use my experience and advised me to open a restaurant. Together with the counselling team, I also prepared a feasibility study to analyse whether my plan had a chance of success. This was only possible on the basis of a pre-feasibility study PGFRC supplied me with.

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 (European Return and Reintegration Network), which supports business start-ups. I returned to Pakistan in December 2019.

Ein Mann steht hinter einem Tisch mit einem Computer darauf.
Restaurant owner and businessman: Waqas Hussain.

I found the perfect place for my restaurant: a shop near the motorway and the main marketplace of Butranwali. I rented that. With financial support from IOM, my savings and loans from my brother and friends, I equipped the place. My fast food restaurant serves everything from burgers and pizza to shawarma. Currently, I 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 stress and a lot of anxiety. I had financial worries and didn't want to lose my staff and the restaurant. So I continued to pay wages and rent.

During this time, I was often in contact with the PGFRC and attended a business development training there. The training was very informative and I learnt ways 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 was not so profitable. So I sold my pizza oven and started a cooperation with a pizzeria in order to be able to continue to fulfil the corresponding orders of my customers. At the moment, I am in the process of setting up a grill station in my restaurant.

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 I received and still receive from the PGFRC. I am still in regular contact with the advisors.

As of: 07/2021

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

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