“I love introducing people to the unique flavours of Ethiopian food. Many of my customers have never tried it before, but after eating at my restaurant they become more adventurous in their food choices!”
Daniel Gashaw runs the only Ethiopian restaurant in Ghent. Growing up in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from a young age he was keen to become an entrepreneur. After completing a course in management studies he started a catering company. But in the wake of political violence, he was forced to leave the country and start a new life in Belgium.
Daniel arrived in Belgium and started looking for a job. At first he took anything he could find, simply to earn money, but he never let go of his passion to become an entrepreneur. It was while working as a postman that he saw an opportunity. “I was delivering letters and saw an advert for microStart. The lady in the picture was wearing an Ethiopian scarf so it drew my attention. I knew one day I would ask them to help me start a business. It was definitely a sign!”
Soon afterwards, Daniel visited microStart’s office in Ghent. Youth Business International’s member in Belgium since 2015, in partnership with the Citi Foundation, microStart supports social integration by providing small business loans, mentoring and training to unemployed people and underserved entrepreneurs of all ages.
With his dream of opening an Ethiopian restaurant, Daniel signed up for microStart’s business skills training course and received a loan from them to pay for the premises and equipment he needed. In 2015 he opened his restaurant, Muday, while continuing to receive mentoring through microStart. He recalls: “I really knew nothing about starting a business! microStart helped me with every challenge, from support with the language to advice on how to apply for the right licences and pay my taxes. It was really good to have someone I could call with questions. Without microStart I can’t say if I would ever have been able to open up Muday. I know it would have taken me a lot longer."
Daniel loves being an entrepreneur. He works hard and hopes to expand and employ more people. “At the moment my wife - who I met in Belgium - and I do the cooking and hire extra staff at the weekends,” he says. “In the future I would love to open another branch or have a café serving Ethiopian coffee and snacks.”
Daniel hopes other entrepreneurs will feel encouraged by his story, and hopes the warm welcome he has received can continue for others:
“People on the move have often had no choice about leaving their countries. They may have left behind successful businesses. When they get to their new countries they need support and guidance so they can do it again. By helping them believe in themselves and achieve new goals, you are also helping them to integrate and support their local economies and communities.”
microStart is part of the Youth Business Europe programme, a regional initiative supported by the Citi Foundation to help young entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.
Daniel's story is featured in our 2017 Impact Report. Read the full report here.