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Building a business and a fresh start back home

Mir Wais Noorzai at work in his counselling business in Afghanistan © Irara
Having endured the hardships of a long journey to Europe with his family where he lived for two and a half years, 49 year old Mir Wais Noorzai settled back in his home country of Afghanistan.

Noorzai is living in a rented house with his eight children, his wife, and other members of his extended family. He holds a university degree in Software Engineering and before leaving for Europe he was working with the UN in Kabul. He now runs his own successful counselling business which he now hopes to expand.

Mir Wais’s brother was an ex-Afghan government employee who was murdered by insurgent groups (probably Taliban). He and his family were regularly receiving warnings and night letters and were threatened by the Taliban on multiple occasions. Moreover, due to these security threats, his children were not able to go to school. Mir Wais, therefore took the hard decision to leave Afghanistan in the hope of providing security and a better future for his children.

Many hardships

He left Afghanistan in April 2014 with his family in search of this bright and peaceful future. They crossed Iran, Turkey, Hungary, and Serbia’s borders, traveling over land and sea. Enduring many adversities and dangers on this journey, he and his family reached Austria and decided to reside there. Mir Wais had to sell his entire property including his house, his land, and his vehicle to make this journey happen, spending $114,500.

After spending two-and-a-half years in Austria, Mir Wais realised that there were no work opportunities for him, nor could he invest money into a business. He also found that his children weren’t getting the right schooling opportunities. He personally visited some colleges in Austria but, due to different academic standards, he was unable to enrol his children. After much deliberation with his family, he decided to return to Afghanistan.

Harnessing skills

With assistance from the ERIN programme (predecessor to ERRIN) , Mir Wais and his family arrived in Afghanistan to a warm welcome from his relatives and friends. He was jobless for three months, looking for jobs everywhere, but without success. He eventually made-up his mind to use his reintegration funds to start a business of his own. He was previously a UN employee, and he had rich experience and knowledge in counselling, as well as good English language skills. Given his experience and skills, he came up with an idea to provide counselling services to recent college and university graduates to assist them in gaining admission to good universities abroad.

With assistance from Afghanistan Centre for Excellence (ACE), IRARA’s local partner in Afghanistan, Mir Wais created a business plan. He started the business with reintegration funding from ERIN and ACE’s local support to gain the required licence, set up the office, and tackle some of the administrative challenges he faced.

Mir Wais’ consultancy is now providing him with a good monthly income. He re-invests some of this into the business each month, and has employed a staff member to work with him. The rest of the income is used for his monthly expenditure and provides enough for savings.

Plans to expand

He states he is happier with his life since returning. He has been able to admit his children into schools and start his own business with the reintegration assistance provided. He now plans to expand his business into nearby provinces and he would like to give a share to his son, too.

This story has been reproduced courtesy of IRARA

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