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Digital Stories



Melissa`s Story

London Round 2


Melissa was born in South America, in Peru and spent her teenage years with her family and relatives. She migrated to Italy together with her mother with just enough money in their pocket to pay the first night in a hotel. Despite her limited resources, she had the hope to have a brighter future for herself and her two younger siblings.


This was extremely hard as it was her first migration experience. Besides missing the loved ones that she left behind, Melissa suffered from loneliness, inability to continue her studies and from the language barriers.


She moved to London in 2016 and very similar feelings of inadequacy occurred but the difference was she had 20 more years of experience on her side. Moreover, she was lucky with strong community support in London. She has the privilege to live in Lambeth where the Latin American minority is officially recognised and many Latin American charities are located. Charities like LADPP in Kennington and IRMO in Brixton are two of the main charities that she was in contact  since her move to the UK. These charities, among many other services, provide English classes for Latinos and counselling sessions that she found extremely beneficial on a professional level. 


She received different professional trainings throughout these years including Chef training with Mazi Mas, the women’s only catering company. It helped Melissa to become a Stall Manager at the Old Spitafields Market in June 2018.


Attending Fresh Start meant the world to me as it helped me gain new business skills.  Since it was an EU Funded programme, I could still raise my 15-year-old son and pay the bills” said Melissa.


" Living in London and in particular in Lambeth and having these charities that work for the community are key to empower migrant women of colour.  It empowers us Europeans. It empowers us BME mothers. It empowers us Latin Americans. It allows us to seek and achieve equality through education" added Melissa. 

Melissa co-owns a Peruvian-vegan catering company where she can use the skills that she gained through Fresh Start in practice.



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Segun`s Story

London Round 2

Infomedia works


Segun started his career in journalism whilst studying at the University in Nigeria, his country of birth. After his postgraduate degree studies, his work invariably became more pronounced in the area of publishing and media consultancy. Career advancement led him to Harare, Zimbabwe where he served as a research consultant to an NGO, the African Publishers’ Network (APNET), then newly formed as an umbrella organisation for African publishers. 

Commissioned by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), he successfully completed a major research work entitled ‘A Study of Library Materials in Indigenous Languages of Africa’ for APNET between 1994 and 1995. 

Following this, he became the first African to be awarded the Bertelsmann Foundation Grant in publishing in which he completed a three-month internship with the Berlin offices of international publishers, Springer Verlag at their International Sales and Marketing Department in 1997.

After his stint with the German publisher, he had moved to London to settle in the hope that he can continue to engage in publishing activities. He had to seek other gainful avenues to survive but to keep hope alive, he had fallen back on his previous journalism training and experience.

In between, he did a couple of pro bono publishing services as community engagement activities and the encouragement and praises that he received made him to register a publishing company in late 2016. Infomediaworks Limited  targets the Afro-Caribbean niche market of new/aspiring authors as well as those who have already published but are looking for new deals. Professional services offered include translation work, editing, low-budget publishing, agent representation and research support to SME’s and new information users.


Since January 2019 when he embarked on the Fresh Start programme, he has been contracted to work on four manuscripts, one of which is about to go to the press. The public presentation of the title is already scheduled for October to coincide with the Black History Month. “This becomes significant when put into perspective that I have previously averaged just one publication per year!” said Segun. Fresh Start helped Segun gain more skills and become more confident in his approach to business.


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Mahran`s Story


Bab Tomas


In September 2018 Syrian restaurant Bap Tomas – named after one of the seven gates inside the historical walls of the city of Damascus – was opened in Maastricht.  Mahran Oufan is one of its co-founders. Together with his girlfriend he embarked on a treacherous journey 3 years earlier, leaving war-torn Syria behind to finally arrive in the southern parts of the Netherlands. They spent one year in an asylum-seekers centre before they got their own little flat and could start to reshape their lives and future. Mahran has a background as a manager in the hotel industry, and as soon as he could he started working in a luxury Dutch hotel-restaurant, before he moved on to open his own restaurant. Although he was already very advanced when it came to the development of his business idea, he still decided to join Fresh Start, where he mostly benefitted from discussions with different coaches.

Mahran is grateful for the opportunities he was offered (and created himself), and he is very active in charity to support the region around Maastricht. For example, he organized a sponsor dinner to collect funds for church roof repairs in the village where he first arrived in the Netherlands.

Bap Tomas is not just a restaurant where delicious Syrian food is served. Mahran also supports young migrants by offering internships in the restaurant, and he organizes social and cultural activities such as women’s gatherings and traditional dancing classes. At the same time his restaurant serves as a meeting place during typical local festivities such as carnival. Bap Tomas is a very good example of how two cultures can meet and contribute to an inclusive society.


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Yasser`s Story


Aelem Diensten


Yasser Allatif is an entrepreneur in heart and soul. In his homeland Syria he had multiple businesses, some very successful, others less so, but “these are the risks an entrepreneur faces”, as he says himself. For a very short period he has worked as an employee but the experience wasn’t one he cares to repeat.

It is therefore no surprise that Yasser wanted to set up his own business in the Netherlands as a means to support himself and his family. As part of a widespread Arab-speaking community he discovered a need for a wide variety of Arab-speaking service providers, from plumbers to tax advisors, who are difficult to find. He decided to research the feasibility of an online platform for the supply and demand of those services and took part in the Fresh Start training at the same time. He launched his website in the spring of 2019:

He faced, and is still facing, quite some unnecessary difficulties when it comes to social benefits, support by the municipality and access to funding. This is unfortunate for an experienced entrepreneur with serious business plans! At the same time, Yasser is determined and will definitely get there.

Yasser is someone who thinks very much ahead and tackles obstacles before they even arise. He had a wide range of very specific questions important for his particular case, and quite a number could be answered during the Fresh Start training. In turn he now supports others wanting to set up their businesses, by recycling the knowledge he acquired during Fresh Start.


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Luz`s Story

London Round 1 




Luz brought to Fresh Start her experience in business and life coaching. She aims to launch an education agency welcoming Spanish and Arabic speaking students who wish to come to the UK to study. She has cleverly built her business on her own skills, knowledge and understanding of the issues and difficulties faced by newcomers to the UK whose first language is not English. Originally from Colombia, Luz went through the similar experience.  After having lived 15 years in Spain, Luz moved to London to study for her master degree in Life Coaching and NLP. Her business – IBAEDUCATION – will provide visa, travel and advice support and appropriate courses to navigate the complexities of arrival and living in the UK and to undertake studies. Unlike other agencies, support from IBAEDUCATION will continue after arrival in the UK with welcome packet including airport transfer, accommodation and how to use the public transportation in London and coaching sessions offered to build up confidence and self-esteem.  It will also provide networking opportunities and social events such as museum visits and other places of interest in London.

Fresh Start helped Luz refine her business ideas and develop a business plan, in her words’ jumping into the actions’. Fresh start gave her an opportunity to reflect and plan with the support of her trainers and fellow participants and to finesse her brand. She already has a business partner in Colombia and is currently developing a professional website. This is an impressive achievement – her energy and passion is a real springboard for success.


Edgar Tristen successfully completed the Fresh Start Limburg Programme and shared his experiences during the DEMODAY on the 22nd  of January, 2019

Hakan Aycicek successfully completed the Fresh Start Limburg Programme and shared his experiences during the DEMODAY on the 22nd  of January, 2019

Ola Hussein Alslaibi successfully completed the first round of Fresh Start Limburg Programme in 2018 and shared her experiences during the first DEMODAY on the 22nd  of January, 2019


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Zujey`s Story

London Round 1 

Creative Moms



Zujey is originally from Colombia and retains strong links with her community there, as well as engaging with the extensive Colombian and Latin American network in London. She is a passionate advocate of Colombian arts and crafts and has set up a business to take this forward – Madres Creativas. Her aim is to support the creativity of women who are the lead experts in this area. This also has the added benefit of enabling many women who are tied by childcare to home environments and unable to take up regular paid employment to gain an income.

Fresh Start has enabled her to take this forward and to develop her business plan with the help of the business advisor. She wants to start with a focus on accessories and fashion, drawing on traditional indigenous crafts and would like to produce an online platform where women can advertise their wares. At the moment a Facebook page allows for networking and communicating with art and craft producers – Madres Creativas. Her enthusiasm and positive outlook is an inspiration.

Madres Creativas


Hafiza Risour and Adolfo Perez successfully completed the first round of Fresh Start London Programme in 2018 and shared their experiences with the new programme participants during the Launch Event on the 17th of January, 2019.

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