“If you have an idea that you burn for, take the chance and do something”.
Born in Afghanistan, Mustafa migrated to Sweden with his parents when he was eleven years old. Since childhood, he had been dreaming of becoming a police officer and his move halfway across the world wasn’t going to stop him. Mustafa worked toward his goal and eventually graduated from the police academy before going on to tirelessly protect and serve the people of Sweden for many years. During his time serving Swedish society, he got to interact with several refugee boys from Afghanistan who had just arrived in Sweden and were struggling with the change of environment.
He learnt that these boys were extremely wary of the police force and Mustafa, coming from a similar background, felt a connection with them. “I wanted to do something”, Mustafa recalls. This realisation led him to consider helping society in a different way – by setting up a social business. He organised a lecture where he talked to the boys about how their coming to Sweden should not stop them from pursuing their dreams; Mustafa encouraged them to integrate and embrace all the opportunities they could find in Sweden.
The first lecture was an enormous success. This motivated Mustafa to organise more lectures and seminars, one day a week, for refugee and migrant children (most of whom were unaccompanied minors or orphans). The lectures proved to be incredibly successful and demand for them increased exponentially.
Initially, Mustafa did not want to quit his job as a police officer, but soon he realised that the demand for his lectures was close to overwhelming his daily job responsibilities. At the same time, he felt encouraged by the freedom and full control that he had over his schedule working as an entrepreneur. More than anything, Mustafa felt incredibly uplifted feeling he was helping others.
The idea of actually starting his own business was terrifying for Mustafa. Even though he believed in his mission, he had effectively no business experience and no real way of knowing where to begin. It was then when Mustafa’s partner, also an entrepreneur, suggested that he get some help from NyföretagarCentrum, Youth Business International's member in Sweden, in partnership with the Citi Foundation, to set up his business. And so he did.
Mustafa first received entrepreneurship training, which proved to be exactly what he needed to convert his business idea into a business plan. Then, in late 2015, he was matched with a volunteer business mentor. “The help was vital”, Mustafa notes.
Going from almost no knowledge of running a full time business, Mustafa soon learned how to not only run his lecture series as a full-time job, but also how to effectively expand his venture to include services such as seminars, boot camps and other formats. All this with the aim of encouraging young migrants to make the most of their situation and integrate to their adopted country – to learn to see their situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. With all the support from the NyföretagarCentrum, Mustafa now had the confidence to go out on his own. And thus, Kreativ Integration was born.
Mustafa and Kreativ Integration have two key aims. Firstly to encourage young refugees and migrants to learn and embrace Swedish culture and society, as well as to trust authority figures such as the police. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Mustafa aims to inspire these children to pursue their dreams.
Mustafa was well aware that it would not be an easy journey in achieving these aims because unlike him, many of these children were orphans or had been separated from their families. This made them more mentally fragile and quite frightened of their new surroundings; but Mustafa felt that these factors made it even more crucial to help the young migrants learn to trust the police and other authority figures. He believes that this is an important step in their integration in the local community.
Since the initial lectures, Kreativ Integration has gone from strength to strength. Mustafa started partnering with various authorities and NGOs and has helped more than one hundred municipalities in Sweden by organising lectures and seminars. He is now even preparing to write a book.
It is not wholly surprising that community engagement is at the forefront of Mustafa’s business plan. After going through a similar journey himself, Mustafa could empathise with these children, and as a former police officer, he is also living proof of how migrants can integrate in the local communities and establish partnerships with the authorities.
Following his dream gave Mustafa the chance to connect with and help others. This connection has ballooned into a successful and thriving business that continues to help and support others and encourage them to pursue their dreams.
“Entrepreneurship is an incredible freedom. If you don´t know how to, don’t be afraid, there´s plenty of help for you out there”.
NyföretagarCentrum 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.