CAIRO – The owner of a successful grocery chain has committed to hire refugees at every store among other efforts to integrate Syrian refugees in Canada.
“Every store would try between three to five [refugees] by the end of the year,” Mohamad Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, told the Huffington Post Canada.
The decision followed Fakih’s visit to a refugee camp in Lebanon, saying that sponsoring a couple of Syrian families was not enough.
“That’s cutting a cheque, but we can do more by [making a] real, hands-on effort,” Fakih said.
The grocery chain, which has over 20 stores in Ontario, is expected to hire more than 100 refugees.
Hiring refugees would be a challenge, Fakih said, adding that it is worth it.
“It will require 10-15 per cent more training than a Canadian employee but our team is excited because they feel like they’re doing something good,” he said.
“They come with a lot of knowledge, education and experience. If we really take our time to communicate with them, I’m sure a lot of Canadians can learn from the Syrians,” he said.
“Now they’re in Canada and we need to support that. The bottom line is get these people on their feet. We can try to employ them and they pay taxes… then they’re an asset,” he said in the same interview.
Fakih’s efforts to hire new refugees have already started, after he hired one as an assistant manager.
“He was a hotel manager back home, so he’s not lacking in business experience. He needs training on anti-racism law, labour law, how to deal with the consumer — what’s right, wrong, offensive,” Fakih said.
Moreover, he started to contact other businesses to do the same.
“Put your name on list of how many employees you’re committed to taking,” he said.
“Some of my friends say ‘yes we are looking’ and some say ‘not right now.’ But I’m already receiving lots of emails.”
“That’s what people did for me when I arrived to Canada,” Fakih said.
“I feel like I owe Canada a lot. And you’re never big enough in business to forget about the community.”