When Amal came to Sweden in 1987 she could not read or write. After many years, many jobs, a lot of studying and learning, she is now become a successful entrepreneur. The journey has been long for Amal. She feels very satisfied with her store today and is already dreaming about new projects.
Amal was born in Kurdistan and was only one month old when her family decided to move to Iran. Because of various circumstances, at age 17, her family chose to move again by leaving Iran. When they arrived In Sweden, first thing Amal had to do was to learn how to read and write. She quickly learned the necessary skills and moved on with her studies. Eventually she started to study healthcare.
During her studies, Amal found work at a refugee kindergarten and therefore dropped out of the healthcare education. Because of working with children all of the world, she was able to use all of her different language knowledge at the job. In fact, Amal speaks five languages fluently: Swedish, Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and English. Amal felt that using her language skills was a lot of fun and therefore started to consider becoming an interpreter.
Even though Amal moved on to working as an interpreter she still dreamed of something bigger, and decided therefore to try other jobs. She says she worked in restaurants, cafes and in stores.
With all the experience in her back pocket, Amal knew that she wanted to have more influence over her job, she simply wanted to be her own boss. At the restaurant where she worked, it often happened that she had to take all responsibility of the restaurant, as to open, close, delegate the job-duties, order goods and ensure that the restaurant was functioning well. She understood that she was able to run a restaurant all by herself and therefore felt ready to start her own business.
Amal found a small store, located at the train station in Vingåker. The store was for sale and she talked to the owner and thought the price seemed reasonable. The advantages of the location were many: It is located at the train station, central bus station is outside the doors, and also taxi stands are located right outside. Furthermore, the well known Vingåker Factory Outlet store is just a few minutes walking distance. People from all over Sweden come to visit the Factory Outlet daily all year round. Many of those arrive by train or bus, and therefore have to pass the store.
Amal knew Joyce from MFI from before and arranged a meeting at the MFI office. Like many others, she felt lost with all the necessary paperwork as well as knowledge with necessary authorities that need to be contacted. Her first questions were: "How?", "Who should I talk to?", "What should I include in the business plan?", and “How should I write it”. MFI helped her develop the idea and plan it into a viable business. She received counseling in form of business planning; business development; marketing and the necessary persons to talk with were presented to her. When preliminary work was finished, they went together to the bank.
Shortly after, Amal obtained the loan and bought the store.
The first thing Amal did was to renovate the store. She bought large refrigerator, ordered new products that were in demand in the area. She decorated and made the store more attractive. The store opened November 2008.
Amal is well known in and treats her customers as they are her family. Every customer who walks in often stays for a quick chat before they leave. She also gets visits from becoming entrepreneurs who want Amal’s advice and help.
The success is clear. A year after taking over the store Amal bought a house in a very popular area of Katrineholm, something she could not have done before life as a successful entrepreneur. From not having the skills in reading or writing, Amal is now a mentor for others. She sits in the Board of MFI, and is a wonderful role model for upcoming entrepreneurs.