We have launched a Empowerment Fund for refugees at Katsikas camp. It’s the next step in our model to bring dignity and normality to people who have had to flee war and now find themselves hostage to a uncaring bureaucracy.
The concept of the Empowerment Fund is simple. On 8 July 2018 we asked people on the camp to submit a one-page proposal for business support. We are lending €1,000 to every viable proposal plus all the legal and coaching support they need for that business idea to thrive.
Here are the first 12 people that will be recipients of the fund during August 2018.
DAIRY PRODUCER - Mohammed
Mohammed is supporting 5 children with his wife and is already making his own Syrian cheese (with fennel seeds) and yoghurt. He is also sourcing his milk from a local Greek goat farmer.
He has limited production capacity so needs a hob to boil bigger quantities, a sensitive scale, and some packing materials.
SYRIAN SHOP - DU'AA AND MUAYYED
This is a husband and wife team who have 2 young girls aged 2 and 3. Du'Aa has a sister who can send them Arabic clothes, accessories and culinary items and that are not available locally and they know people on the camp and in Ioannina want.
They would like to increase the range and volume of stock they can offer. Husband is also tending chickens and a vegetable garden.
RESTAURANT - YASMIN
Yasmin and her husband already have a restaurant set in a beautiful garden. And an Instagram page. They serve great Syrian food but need a drinks chiller, freezer and food processor to satisfy growing demand from sitting customers, home deliveries and celebrations.
They have 7 children aged 16 to 7 months and the lack of activity before setting up the restaurant was driving them crazy. Now they have big plans.
language teacher - amal
Amal already has customers, teaching them English on camp and Arabic to a local Greek customer. But she also interprets for people who need it at hospital or in other important situations. Refugee Support regularly calls on her for help!
Amal is a widow supporting her two young teenagers and her work is important to the while family. She will be setting up in a classroom on the camp and needs funding for course materials.
Fragrance manufacture - Mamdooh
This very impressive young man understands the natural fragrance business from both a manufacturing and sales & marketing point of view. He is very concerned to help other refugees to become independent and integrate within Greece.
He needs help to buy the supplies but capable of managing everything else and keen to build a team of others to produce and sell. We have offered him a room for production and expect to see this idea grow rapidly.
Bike hire - Osman
Osman has many ideas to offer essential services to the camp but to start with will set up a bike hire business. He needs capital to buy some bikes, basic tool set, and security locks.
This gentle giant is 28 and left Sudan aged 15 spending 12 years in Egypt and Turkey before getting to Greece. Having an activity and providing things that the camp needs is very important to him.
Chicken retailer - Musham
Musham is keen to supply the camp with Halal chicken that his available from a supplier in Ioannina.
He would like to expand the range of chicken and have a bigger stock to supply what people want and offer whenever they want so will use the loan for a freezer and a stock of chicken.
He and his wife have 2 young children with special needs who need additional, more costly, support.
Car wash - the Al-Qaisi brothers
These three enterprising young Iraqis aged 18, 20, and 24 live with their mother and are committed to staying in Greece which they described in their proposal as "a beautiful country with its civilised and exceptional people". They want to start a car wash business and this is a service they understand.
They have identified the equipment they need (water pump, jet wash, hoover, materials) but the challenge will be finding a place they can set up with electricity and water.
Travelling sales - Abdul-Kadir
Sudanese Abdul-Kadir is an experienced salesman so just needs help getting more stock. He knows what people want to buy, how tastes change and no-one can resist his winning smile. He wants to support his wife and 3 daughters aged 8, 3 and 2 months.
He could buy his products from Athens which are cheaper but it is easier and he could still make a profit by reselling items from the a local wholesaler in Ioannina.
Sandwich shop - Abdul
This young man is living with 4 others in the same caravan. One – his brother - already runs a barbers and another wants a tattoo parlour.
Clearly resourceful, he is keen to do something to improve his living standards and to have a purpose. He has already run a sandwich shop on the islands and has thought about market. He just needs to agree a location then the loan can buy a kebab wheel, fryer, tables and chairs.
Clothes design - Raghad
Raghad is an expert clothes designer for women and children and can also do alterations for men’s clothes. Until now she has been borrowing an inadequate sewing machine so the loan will be used to buy a new one, essential sewing equipment and fabrics.
Raghad is from Falluja so she and her husband and 3 daughters (aged 16, 7 and 6) have always known war. There is huge potential for this business.
Mini-market - Bashar
Bashar already has a mini-market space created by local volunteer group Habibi Works but it has no stock. He wants to stock it with fast selling products he knows the camp wants plus a small fridge for drinks and cheese.
Although products are cheaper in Athens, he can still make a profit but buying from local budget supermarkets. He will use this to help support his wife and 8 month old son.