At age 18, Mr. Estafnouse set out for Europe, hoping to find work opportunities and a better future. He was a passionate, hardworking, and enthusiastic man determined to overcome any challenge that came his way.
Mr. Estafnouse soon reached Cyprus, where his brother was residing, and shortly realized the complexity of securing a legal residency and decent job. He then moved to Italy, where he stayed for nearly two years, working and acquiring experience in pizza and pasta making. While his income was decent, he remained challenged by his irregular stay which led him to travel to the Netherlands, where he stayed for almost 15 years. Despite his numerous attempts to regularize his situation, Mr. Estafnouse failed to secure permanent legal status, and thus decided to return to his home country.
Encouraged by a friend, Mr. Estafnouse reached out to IOM and was able to return to Egypt in 2014. He used his 1500USD reintegration grant to rent a small venue and buy the equipment needed to open a restaurant in his hometown, Menoufeya. The demand on the business was not high, forcing him to close the business only after 3 months of operation. Discussing the closure, Mr. Estafnouse said, “The main reason why my restaurant [was unsuccessful] is the wrong location where the demand on such services was relatively low.”
Today Mr. Estafnouse works as a chef in a restaurant in Menoufeya. He is making significant effort to improve his skills and has shown interest in being enrolled in training programmes to enhance his skills as a chef. Mr. Estafnouse’s experiences have taught him much about owning a business, managing a restaurant, and the factors that play into a start-up’s success, which he hopes to capitalize on in the future.