I was born and raised in Iraq, and arrived in Germany when I was 18. I already worked at a man’s barber, and soon after getting the residence and the work permit, I worked full-time for three years. I always aimed to become self-employed, but I needed a tradesman certificate (“Meisterbrief”) to operate under German law. I was finally able to get this certificate in 2020 without doing a 3-year traineeship. I first met Social Impact in 2017, and applied back in 2021 as I was preparing to set up my Salon. Social Impact helped me get funding for the business as no bank was ready to invest in his project because of my refugee status.
It is amazing what Social Impact does because you always need a business plan – whether for the landlord or for investors. Having a coach also meant a lot: knowing someone is accompanying you, someone who is on your side, makes a real difference. At last, I found a private investor.
The pandemic was a very tough period for me, but in March 2021, I got the funding and started operating just in time to generate revenues and start covering initial costs. I took additional languages courses in German, investing much of my time and money, working more than 10 hours per day without vacation and, at times, sleeping on a couch to save up for the business.
After 18 months, Danar’s Salon is running very well, we employ 14 people, both permanent contract and apprentices, and six of them are refugees. But, already, we do not fit into the space I had originally rented. We invest a lot of time in customer feedback and have reached a 4.9 rating based on 1,300 reviews on Google. If the customers are happy, they will come again, they will recommend you, and at that point, things start going very well. That’s why I decided to set up a second business, an online marketing agency, to leverage my expertise in digital marketing and social media for small- and medium-sized hairdressers, many of which have a minimal online presence.
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