Business-savvy Syrian refugees in Moncton took in a seminar Wednesday with the goal of better understanding the regulatory processes and procedures related to launching a business.
“There is a lot of challenges when it comes to understanding the Canadian behaviour, the Canadian regulation and entrepreneurial process to opening a business,” said Julien Robichaud, business immigration services manager at 3+ Corporation in Moncton.
Robichaud’s company aims to help entrepreneurs with new business start ups, including the roughly 12 Syrian refugees who took in Wednesday’s session.
Robichaud says of the roughly 350 Syrian refugees who have settled in Moncton, many have already expressed interest in running their own business, but he says most aren’t ready to take it on just yet.
“We have had newcomers in the past buying businesses in residential areas and to find out later on that they can’t open up a business in that section of the town,” said Robichaud.
Syrian refugee Subhi Abdo, a chef, agrees that he has a lot to learn about running a business in Canada. He arrived in Moncton five months ago, bringing along more than 20 years experience running an eatery back home in Syria.
He says he would love to serve up his specialty shawarma at a restaurant here in Canada too, but admits has a lot to learn about language and Canadian culture first.
“He has the problem with the language issue but he’s getting better,” said Fahed Doumani, Abdo’s mentor.
Doumani, known locally as Freddie, immigrated to Canada from Lebanon 28 years ago. He now owns six restaurants in Greater Moncton.
Robichaud says having only been in Canada a few months, most Syrian refugees are months or even years away from becoming successful entrepreneurs, but he plans to offer ongoing support to those up for the journey.
“They still have a lot of life skills a lot of language skills they need to grasp,” he said.
Finances are also a big obstacle Robichaud says, because like Abdo, when many refugees left Syria they also lost their livelihoods.
But Abdo remains confident he’ll run his own business again one day, and he is grateful to have a mentor and partner in Doumani as he establishes his new life in Canada
“I am very happy,” Abdo said.
Roughly 350 Syrian refugees have settled in Moncton since January 2016.