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”After our practical training it became our own little garage”

Brothers Muhammed and Amer Zaatar have only lived in Sweden for a few years. With them from Syria they brought many broken dreams. ”We lost everything and had to start again from scratch. We wanted to find a place of our own on the Swedish labour market”, they say. And they already have a business of their own.
The younger of the brothers, Amer Zaatar, owns the garage, Muhammed helps to run it. In just a few years they have gone from being trainees to having their own firm.
The younger of the brothers, Amer Zaatar, owns the garage, Muhammed helps to run it. In just a few years they have gone from being trainees to having their own firm.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

The workshop is full of machines, tools, equipment, oils and tyres. The spare parts all over the place and the smell of oil are evidence of an old-established garage.

quote
It was our uncle who introduced us into the world of cars. We were fascinated

The brothers feel at home here. From the age of about twelve they began to work in the family's car repair shop.

– It was our uncle who introduced us into the world of cars. We were fascinated, we really wanted to get into it. It was like having a passion for something. We've always liked the work, and things went well for us', says Muhammed Zaatar.

Brothers Amer and Muhammed  feel at home here. ”We've always loved the work”, says Muhammed.
Brothers Amer and Muhammed feel at home here. ”We've always loved the work”, says Muhammed.
Foto: Tommy Svensson
Owning a company means a lot of administration. '”We work to gain our customers' trust”, Muhammed says.
Owning a company means a lot of administration. '”We work to gain our customers' trust”, Muhammed says.
Foto: Tommy Svensson
The faulty codes in the car have to be checked.
The faulty codes in the car have to be checked.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

– When the war came, it crushed all our plans for the future.

It became impossible for them to work in Syria.

– You have to support either the government or the opposition, you can't be neutral and stay on in Syria.

They brought their dreams with them. While waiting for their residence permits they thought about starting their own business in Sweden.

quote
We didn't want to live on social handouts
Amer Zaatar started their firm Favoritbilverkstad in Kristianstad as a one-person business in 2017. In 2020 it became a limited company.
Amer Zaatar started their firm Favoritbilverkstad in Kristianstad as a one-person business in 2017. In 2020 it became a limited company.
Foto: Tommy Svensson
The brothers help one another with service and repairs. ”We have firms that help us with glass and damage to the bodywork”.
The brothers help one another with service and repairs. ”We have firms that help us with glass and damage to the bodywork”.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

Facts

Advice when you set up on your own

Amer and Muhammed Zaatar's advice:
* It's a good idea to start as an employee before you set up on your own. It's all about gaining experience and understanding the Swedish labour market.
* I know a lot of people who have come to Sweden and started their own business without having any experience. But they had to close down after a short time, says Amer.
* Think about why you want to start a business.
* Consider all the costs involved. ”We found this out at the beginning, there are hidden costs you must be aware of”.
* You must have customers. ”Our outgoing personalities and our friends helped us to get lots of customers. You must be friendly and sociable”, says Muhammed.

– We wanted to realise them in our new country. We didn't want to live on social handouts, we wanted to get ahead by our own efforts, the brothers say.

– During our practical training I learned that you need ability, attention to detail and a serious attitude to get a foot into the labour market. I worked hard to build up my customers' trust. I still do, says Amer.

– It isn't easy to find your place in the Swedish community, to learn the language and start your own business, says Muhammed.

Amer change oil.
Amer change oil.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

Facts

Amer Zaatar

Born: in 1993 in Aleppo.
Lives: in Kristianstad, came to Sweden in 2015.
Work: Amer Zaatar started Favoritbilar garage in Kristianstad as a one-person firm in 2017. In 2020 the firm became a limited company. He runs the firm along with his brother. Today the firm has two trainees.
Leisure interests: hotting up and restyling cars, being with his family and friends, learning Swedish.
quote
Unfortunately we were unable to get financial help from a bank, since we are new in Sweden

They got help from Nyföretagarcentrum to set up on their own.

– They offered us free help there. We went there to find out about all the practical details, such as starting with a plan for the business, and then other questions such as how to open a bank account, says Muhammed.

Did you get any financial help?

– Unfortunately we were unable to get financial help from a bank, since we are new in Sweden. This is a problem for all newcomers who want to start their own business. Maybe you have a good idea and a profitable project, but no way of financing it. It's a big obstacle for us, says Muhammed.

quote
We want our language to be 100 per cent correct

– We borrowed money from our friends and from people who thought we could make a go of it. We started as a one-person business and now we have a limited company, he says.

The firm, Favoritbilverkstad AB, offers all types of service.

The brothers have kept on studying Swedish.

”Our courtesy car for our customers. That's what we call it for a joke”, the brothers say.
”Our courtesy car for our customers. That's what we call it for a joke”, the brothers say.
Foto: Tommy Svensson
Muhammed changes brake linings.
Muhammed changes brake linings.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

Facts

Muhammed Zaatar

Born : in 1991 in Aleppo.
Lives: in Kristianstad, came to Sweden in 2015.
Business: is a motor mechanic.
Work: motor mechanic, repairs different kinds of cars.
Leisure interests: Swimming, reading and learning Swedish.

Why are you studying more Swedish?

– We want our language to be 100 per cent correct. It increases our customers' confidence in us. And of course it helps us understand our customers better and become part of the Swedish community, Amer says.

When they came to Sweden in 2015 they were given trainee places in different garages.

– It was a good way of getting out on to the labour market. When we were trying to find a job we got in touch with a firm and asked if we could get some training with them. In fact we started here in 2018 as trainees.

– Here in this very garage. After our practical training it became our own little car repair shop.

quote
We are more flexible during the crisis

Do you have a lot of customers?

– Yes, both Swedish and incomers. We are particular about sticking to agreed times and we have the knowledge that is required. Satisfied customers are our best advertisement . They talk to one another about our work, and that gives us more customers, says Muhammed.

During the corona crisis there is a risk for their economy. But the brothers still believe the firm will survive.

– Of course, just like businesses all over the world we are feeling the effects of the corona crisis. But in spite of everything we're doing well. We have our customers, and we always try to maintain contact with them. If necessary we can drive out to where they live and pick up their car for repairs. We are more flexible during the crisis.