A long journey to the top

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

Hamude Mustafa, 25, has made a rocket career and gone from SFI intern to store manager at Dollarstore in four years. At Boden’s Business Gala, he took home the Trader of the Year award.

Hamude Mustafa grew up with his parents and two siblings in Syria. After year six, he started working in the family’s hardware store, Dad’s boy as he was.

– Dad used to say “Poor you who were my kid, now you will never make it”. But I said: “I promise you, I will start my own company and my company will be much bigger than yours”. Then he started laughing, says Hamude.

He lived his life like any teenager, until it was time for military service. That was just when the demonstrations in Syria started and were met with strong opposition from the Assad regime.

– Everyone who was with Assad was from Syria and those who did not want to be with Assad were from Syria. They were my friends, but I would protect one side. Of course you do not want to fight and kill, that’s the biggest thing, but I have never liked politics and I do not want to worry about their problems.

So he escaped, crossed the border and on into the EU.

– It was a very hard journey. I was tired, I was injured, and slept on many benches along the way. I had no mom or dad who could stand by my side – I knew that if I called them, it was done for them too. It was just managing on its own.

As a 19-year-old, Hamude ended up in Sweden and Boden six years ago. After a while, he received a permanent residence permit and read triple Swedish courses. But school alone did not suit Hamude, he wanted to work. He got an important contact at the Lärcentrum which helped him to various internships, including Dollarstore.

– The day before the interview, I had been hit by a car while riding the bicycle. I had patches all over my face and had broken my hand. The boss, Malin, asked when I could start. I answered on Monday and tried to open the bandage to show that I could and she just laughed.

The journey to the top

Three months of internship led to working extra hours there and then an entry-level job of one year. He signed an employment contract and acquired an apartment on the same day.

– That’s where my journey really began. I enjoyed myself very much, mainly because of the staff. They were the ones who taught me the language and there was a great family feeling where people joked and had fun.

He got another year, then a parental vacancy and then a chance to go around and start new stores around Sweden. Here he learned everything about trade and when he returned, the position as store manager became vacant. He applied, with some hesitation. He was afraid that the staff would see him as the Hamude who had just started and knew nothing.

– But when I came into the coffee room the first day, they came up and hugged me and said that they were happy to have me back. You get tears in your eyes, I felt really welcome.

As store manager, he lets newcomers and school students practice to give them the same chance he got. The supervision takes a lot of time, but Hamude thinks that it gives a good picture of the store and afterwards he can sometimes get extra labor.

– If I do not offer an internship, then who should do it?

Nothing is impossible

Now Hamude has been store manager for a year, he is proud of his journey and likes to work hard and a lot. Some warn him to burn himself out, but he says he rests when he needs to.

– When I take time off, I’m free, I might grill, drive a snowmobile or do something with the car. I love the nature. I’m a businessman and like people, but when I’m free I’m never in town. Then I’m out in the woods.

A couple of years ago, Hamude’s family fled to Austria, and after not talking for over four years, it was an emotional reunion when Hamude went to visit them. They became very proud when he was named Trader of the Year at the Business Gala and his father realized that he would lose the old bet.

– The prize means very, very much to me. I am very proud of myself because I have chosen the right path. I still think it’s a dream. I am very happy and just want to thank everyone who has believed in me.

Hamude has worked hard and lives by the motto that nothing is impossible, that you can if you want to. In the future, he wants to stay in the booth and strengthen entrepreneurship here.

Related content

Mission impossible?

Unbyn’s old mission house has been given love and new life. Here, couple Lisa Tingstad Solsona and Sebastian Nyberg have created a 300 square meter

Read more »