Participant series - Adel Albaghdadi
Updated: Apr 7
Arrived right at the middle of the refugee crisis in Netherlands, in 2015, Adel says that he knew he did not want to be labeled as a refugee. “I was not just a refugee, I was more that”.
Adel is 30 years old Syrian entrepreneur who was a participant of DELITELABS Incubation program. Back at home, he studied Law hoping to become a diplomat. “I had a real passion for peace building and I wanted to achieve it”. When the war started, everything has changed for Adel. He had to leave his career as well as his studies unfinished and left to seek safe home in Europe.
Arrived right at the middle of the refugee crisis in Netherlands, in 2015, Adel says that he knew he did not want to be labeled as a refugee. “I was not just a refugee, I was more that”. This attitude has partly motivated him to think how can he share stories about his people and their life back at home with local people here and create a link between cultures.
Instead of sitting silent and waiting for his status, Adel has started from the village where he was placed and did presentations about refugee matter to the community around him. When we asked why, he said: “People had a certain image they were seeing in media and I wanted to put a face to the story and change their perception”.
“My village here was in the middle of nowhere and I was a bit scared that this country may not be the right one for me. The environment was new, the culture was new. I was curious of course, but curious in fear”.
His Program experience
First, Adel started with short presentations. He told local volunteers in his camp that he wants to do something informative. “ I wanted the local people to know what refugees do here and why there are here”. At that time he was focusing on bridging the gap between the newcomers and the society. Once started, he realized: “This is all I wanted throughout. Without being diplomat or carrying the title of it, I can still make peace by doing what I love”. In the meantime, he heard about DELITELABS from the social media and decided to try his hand.
“ When I saw the advertisement for entrepreneurship program of DELITELABS, I thought, it is a good opportunity, especially because it is accessible to everyone”
Luckily the program was in English and he states that: “I did not have to pay for the program and it was very important for me as a refugee at that time because you can’t really afford anything”. Although entrepreneurship was not a new concept for him, he confirms that he did not have the right tools to put his concept together. Adel remembers that, when he came to sessions, “ I was hooked by the way of teaching, all the information that I got, all the knowledge….It was a new world in a way. Not the whole new thing but new in the context of the Netherlands, how things are done here”.
After the program
After the incubation program, Adel has launched his social enterprise “WE” with the motto ‘to do business with impact’. For him, it was the golden in-between, peace that he wanted for a career and a business.
“I learned so much about the business plan, customer journey as well as see if the product or service is what the customer needs, in a way doing a reality check with the world and always be connected to the outside world, not to invent the wheel again”
He thinks that, WE, is not 100 percent where he wishes it to be but then admits: “There is no failure as far as you are trying, so I am trying”.
WE, organizes talks, events, presentations about diversity and inclusion in different conferences, events and trainings. It promotes social inclusion and fights xenophobia. WE tailors courses based on our audience’s needs. We, has already started expanding its target zone reaching Belgium and Poland. Adel admits that, “The hardest thing for me now is the need to prove myself. I found out that it is not only for me, its for different parts of society…you just have to prove yourself so that people accept you…” When we asked what would he would advice to newcomers, he said: “Start from the day one. Don’t wait for people to serve you things in silver plate. Try to be proactive. We are the ones responsible for our life. We have to put our hands out to connect and work together” Adel currently is looking for partnerships to scale WE up and expand and welcomes everyone to join him in this journey.
Adel Albaghdadi Amsterdam Incubation Program, 2016