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Ghaees Alshorbajy

France

“Financing with Adie was quick and easy. Today, I am very happy, because this project is my choice. It’s an activity that makes sense to me.”

After the long journey that brought him to France from his native Syria in 2015, Ghaees Alshorbajy wanted to continue to practice in the field of work he knew best.

Ghaees already had experience with recycling and was familiar with handling all sorts of materials: paper, cardboard, plastic and metal. Rather than working for another company however, Ghaees dreamed of creating his own waste recovery business.

First, he had to learn how to best conduct business in his new country. “I learned French and conducted observation and immersion programs in major recycling companies in Paris.” He familiarised himself with French ways of recycling but realised he needed an original idea to enter the market.

Ghaees was most interested in scrap metal recycling and the difficulties surrounding this waste product and others like it. He realised there was a need for better organisation between the producers of heavy waste and those prepared to recycle or reuse it. He imagined a recycling platform – which he eventually named KaouKab from the Arabic word for “planet” – to connect these two different groups of people.

Not only is this online platform designed to simplify the recycling process, but the company is dedicated to minimising its own ecological footprint. KaouKab accomplishes this by only sending trucks to places that are ready for pickup, thereby minimising CO2 emissions; by guaranteeing total recovery of objects; and by speedily collecting items before they become threats to the environment.

To start his business, Ghaees was in contact with several organisations, including SINGA and BGE, but he still needed an initial investment. In 2017, these groups put him in touch with Adie, Youth Business International’s member in France. Adie offers a complete solution for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who do not have access to bank credit. Besides providing microcredits and loans, Adie also offers microinsurance to entrepreneurs in order to minimise the risk associated with start-up companies.

Ghaees scheduled an appointment with Clemence, an Adie Advisor, and she immediately recognised the potential in Ghaees’ project and was confident in its application. Adie offered Ghaees € 5,000 in initial funding, money that allowed him to buy a used truck for waste collection, to develop his website and to have cash available.

After meeting with Clemence, Ghaees began working with Laurent, a volunteer business mentor at Adie, to set up his financial forecast. Ghaees and Laurent then met once every three or four months to track the evolution of KaouKab. Laurent continues to coach Ghaees as needed, which highlights how important Adie’s guidance continues to be for this entrepreneur who is still learning as his business grows.

To date, Ghaees’ platform is in the midst of further development as it builds loyalty and expands its customer base: small and medium construction companies, building unions and individuals. Ghaees works with one trainee and has hopes of eventually hiring employees in the long-term. KaouKab has also been awarded a CréAdie prize in Adie’s annual business competition. “Without Adie, I may not have realised my dream of opening my own business in the field that I wanted. Their support made such a difference in KaouKab’s success.”

Motivated and ambitious, Ghaees hopes to continue developing his recycling business internationally. He still regularly attends Adie’s networking events, demonstrating his commitment to growing his business and an interest in working with other entrepreneurs and professionals.

When asked what advice he would give to future migrant entrepreneurs, Ghaees said:

“You need to believe in your project, take it seriously and be ready for an adventure.”

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