I first interviewed Taoufik in 2013 for Irish Radio International on the market in Bishopstown. Since then, Taoufik had a remarkable journey to success.
Taoufik is a Tunesian father of three who has been living in Ireland for the past 19 years. Since he came to Ireland, Taoufik worked for several different companies, but he had a dream. A dream for which he worked very hard. Taoufik lost his job in 2008, when the company he worked for closed down due to the recession.
He took a week’s break to reflect on how to move on. Taoufik had enough of working for someone else, he decided to start from zero. ‘Zero is the brain, says Taoufik’ You have to start all over again, and use your brain to think and study, use your past experiences.
He contacted the local famer’s market. The organisor was very happy to let him give it a try. Taoufik used 30 € to buy meat, vegetables and pita breads. he used a garden table, a sunscreen and a barbeque grill from home and went to his first market to sell kebabs on June 26th 2008. At the end of the day, Taoufik had over 500€ in his pocket. He decided to get a license for his food business, and did all the necessary work to get the license. He started on one market and soon expanded to other markets with the help of the Dole office,who supported him. he bought proper equipment and thrived at the local markets. People started telling him he should think of an indoor business in 2011. With the help of the dole office and his own funds he did a course in setting up and running your own business with QED and he took the plunge after that. he found a good location in Cork where he opened his restaurant, Sultan, of Lebanese and Morrocan cuisine. He had the support of his wife and his brothers. As in every African country, family ties are very strong in Tunesia. The whole family helped Taoufik to make his dream come true.
It was hard work, he still has his market stalls as well. Taoufik has now opened a sweet shop, with tea, spices, Turkish delights and Baklavas in the same premises as a previous Turkish delight shop in Mac Curtain st, Cork. The shop got great reviews on Facebook.
Now that he has two businesses, Taoufik wants to make some time for his wife and children.
He knows that his wife and brothers will always support him. The energy and support from his family helps him to keep going.
His next project is to give cooking classes of Lebanese, Morrocon and other international cuisines.
Taoufik is a true example of a migrant who made it. he says it is possible for anyone to make it. ‘Just think about what your strengths are and use them’.
Taoufik has opened up to the Irish society, he has purposely not restricted himself to the North African community.
He has brought some of the North African culture of generosity and welcoming people in the house over to Ireland.
He has no problems with xenophobia. If it does happen, he just ignores it. He thinks that if you respect yourself, people will respect you as well. Whatever you do at home, do it here. Show who you are, what your culture is like, and respect other people.
He spent half his life in Ireland, but still misses Tunesia.
Taoufik apologised for the tragedy that happened on the beach. He hopes people understand that the people of Tunesia are not like that, they are a kind, welcoming people and they are deeply upset about what happened..