Sherif originally hails from Alexandria, Egypt. He was driven to migrate to Europe out of severe financial hardship, which made it practically impossible for him to marry the woman he loved. Believing his best chances at financial independence and success to lay outside his native land, Sherif migrated to the Netherlands in 2001, where he hoped he would be able to gather the necessary financial resources to start his married life within three years of his arrival.
Sherif was able to secure a residency permit through an asylum application in 2003. Unfortunately, once in the Netherlands, he faced difficult financial straits, job insecurity, and a high cost of living. A few years passed, and he found himself with little more financial resources than he had when he first arrived. And so three years of working in restaurants, cafes, and as a deliveryman slowly turned into fifteen.
The Dutch legal system tightened its migration restrictions, and Sherif found himself without a residency permit, and without protection. He was left open to repeated exploitation and humiliation upon the expiration of his residency, and began to dream of home once again.
In 2015, Sherif was referred by a friend to IOM’s offices in the Netherlands. Eligible for assisted voluntary return and reintegration, he was granted a reintegration fund of 1500EUR with which he could start a microbusiness in his hometown in Egypt.
Upon returning to Alexandria, and thanks to the support of his family, friends, and neighbours, Sherif invested his own savings and capital and went into business with his brother, opening a minimarket.
Today, two years after coming back to Egypt, Sherif and his brother run their business with success and renewed faith in their dreams, even if life as a business owner can and does come with its own set of challenges.
Finally reunited with his fiancée, Sherif said: “[IOM’s grant] definitely supported me [in entering] a partnership with my brother […] I am now married to the love of my life, and I was recently gifted with my son, Omar.”