Refugees make great entrepreneurs and workers

MOHAMMED RAHIMEH left Damascus in December 2015, rather than be conscripted into the Syrian army. His journey to London took him through Lebanon and Greece and included 11 months in the notorious “Jungle” camp in Calais. Despite leaving Syria with no cooking qualifications or English skills, he is now in the process of setting up a food business in Britain.

History is replete with immigrants who have brought economic skills with them, from the Flemish weavers who came to England in the 14th century to the millions of Europeans who emigrated to America in the late 19th. Today’s migrants also have plenty to offer, if only the authorities will let them work.

While he was waiting for his asylum claim to be processed in Britain, Mr Rahimeh wasn’t allowed to take a job. But he did develop his cooking skills, focusing on a recipe involving eggs, onions, tomatoes and spices. With the help of Alexandra Simmons, a volunteer he had met in Calais, he set up Mo’s Eggs, a business that offered a Syrian brunch. He was able to take advantage of a trend for pop-up restaurants, venues that only exist for a day every week or month.

The first site was a pizza restaurant in Archway, in north London, and his first event was Ms Simmons’s 30th birthday party. He served around 60 people every month until the venue closed, but will soon...



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