Eskadar from Iran, a recognized refugee and beneficiary of the HELIOS* integration project of the International Organization for Migration, arrived in Greece about five years ago. Ambitious and determined to carve out his own path, Eskadar recently started managing his own business. A creperie in Heraklion, Crete.
The process of setting up his business did not happen overnight.
“I had no idea what the future held for me when I arrived,” he says. "All I knew was that Greece could offer me a better life. Through a lot of hard work, methodicality and saving money every month, I managed to open my own business, a creperie, and build a better life for myself here in Heraklion. I'm grateful for that, every day.”
“The creperie I bought was an existing business, of which I was a regular customer. The previous owner supported me practically and financially during the adjustment period, before he decided to transfer the business to me.
At first, when I realized that a new opportunity was opening up in front of me, I was hesitant and did not feel confident. However, the HELIOS job counselors were very helpful. They supported me both emotionally in the process of making the final decision and practically with all the documents needed to be able to start my own way. I would hardly have managed without them,” he says.
"I also feel good because the creperie created jobs for other people as well. Today I work with three other Greeks. When I'm in the shop and watch the team work together with such passion, I draw strength and inspiration for the future," he admits.
Eskadar did various jobs before taking over the crepe business. He worked in the agricultural sector, while working as a driver, delivery person and interpreter. In his spare time, he deals with carpentry, which was his main occupation for many years in his country.
He made sure to learn the Greek language very quickly, which helped him in his career and subsequent development. Today he speaks Greek very well.
"I started learning the Greek language from the very first days I arrived in Greece. Now I am proud to have obtained an A2 certification, through the courses I attended within the framework of the HELIOS project," he says.
"I have created my own legacy here in Crete", says Eskadar proudly. "My communication with newly arrived refugees on the island is frequent. I always advise them two things: Firstly, to learn the language quickly and secondly to do their best to find a job. The HELIOS project is a very important help at this stage. So, speaking the language and earning a living are very important.”
Looking to the future, Eskadar wishes to open his own carpentry business in Crete. It is something he knows well, and he also knows that there are not enough carpenters left on the island.
"I think I'll make it," he says optimistically.
* The HELIOS Integration Project, implemented throughout Greece by the International Organization for Migration and funded by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, aims to promote and support the integration of beneficiaries of International Protection into the Greek society. The initiatives and pillars of the project focus on integration courses, supporting the housing and employment of the beneficiaries, monitoring their integration process, and raising the awareness amongst host communities.