Business Owner Vows to Hire Refugees at All of His Restaurants
“We help, we hire all Canadians regardless of where they come from.”
Reaching out has resulted in reaching new heights for Paramount Fine Foods CEO, Mohammad Fakih.
In 2016, his Middle Eastern restaurant chain had 1,200 job openings across 36 Canadian locations. That also was the year when the first wave of Syrian refugees began arriving in Canada, escaping a horrific war unfolding in their home country. That’s when he committed to hiring refugees to fill some of those job openings. Over 80 positions were filled were filled under that mandate.
“Like many others, I immigrated to Canada for the opportunity for a better life. I came to Canada with next to nothing, but with the help of this country and its citizens, I was able to apply myself and develop Paramount Fine Foods into what it is today,” Fakih said.
He also wants to change the perception that it’s costly or time-consuming to hire and train a refugee.
“I always say it is part of Paramount’s DNA to give back to its community. That is why we reached out to help newcomers find employment. We want to be a part of their integration, as they also came to Canada looking for a chance for a better life.”
Newcomer Adnan al-Mekdad says, “You want to start paying taxes, to feel like you are from here. You are not a guest or just a vulnerable one.” He fled Syria over two years ago where he was a veterinarian then a partner in a pharmaceutical company. “When you face such a thing like this, you don’t start to think how to depend [on others] much more. You want to help, not to be helped.”
As for Fakih, he continues to give back to communities across the country.
After a mass shooting at a mosque in 2017 devastated a community in Quebec City, Fakih paid for funerals of the six Muslim men who lost their lives.
Later that year, Fakih aimed to raise $800,000 for UNHCR to provide food, shelter and other necessities to Rohingya refugees.
With 65 international locations and the fastest growing Middle Eastern restaurant chain in North America, Fakih is well-positioned to continue to give back. He plans to open 16 more locations across Canada in 2019.