Egypt: Sayed Mahmoud Ahmed, café shift supervisor

Sayed Mahmoud Ahmed, café shift supervisor in Egypt.

One in four Egyptians under the age of 24 is out of work. Commissioned by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is supporting the National Employment Pact (NEP), an initiative of the German-Egyptian business community. NEP aims to get 12,500 young Egyptians fit for the workplace and some 7,500 into an actual job by providing training and tailored job placement services – as in the case of 27-year-old Sayed Mahmoud.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Probably like every other boy I used to dream of becoming a famous footballer. I threw all my energy into the game. But after the violence at the stadium in Port Said on 1 February 2012, my team fell apart. And so did my dream! I moved to Cairo – without any practical training or any proper idea of what I was going to do. At that time it was really difficult to find work in Egypt. I had no idea what would become of me.

How did you get the job in Beano’s café?

A friend told me about the job centres that help people without professional qualifications get a fair employment contract. So I went along to one of these centres and took part in an orientation course. I learned how to apply for jobs and I was also told what I can expect from an employer. After a couple of interviews, I quickly got an offer from the gastronomy chain LaPoire. I started to work as a waiter in Beano’s café. I've been there for four years now and I’ve been promoted to shift supervisor.

What does this job mean to you?

I took the first job I was offered. After I got the hang of it, I actually started to like being a waiter. Working in a café is pretty similar to engaging on a playing field. It’s teamwork, just the same as football. We all have our positions and take turns kicking the ball, but we score goals together! With a great deal of support from the others, coupled with my own efforts and God’s help, I was able to work my way up.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Five years from now, I see myself as the deputy manager of one of the cafés here. I think that’s realistic. Besides a fair wage and social benefits, my employer offers us real development prospects. As soon as I reach a goal, I’m given another, higher-level one.

You no longer dream of being a football star. Do you have a new dream?

Football is now my favourite hobby. There’s nothing better after a hard day’s work than running off all that surplus energy on the pitch. In the meantime, my dream is to become a successful businessman myself. I want to set up my own company – maybe a café – and employ lots of people. In that way I can help to combat unemployment in my country.

Sayed Mahmoud Ahmed used to earn a living playing football. Following the stadium riots in Port Said in February 2012 his team disbanded.

His football career was over and he had to come up with another plan. Sayed gratefully accepted a place on the NEP orientation course.

How do I conduct myself during a job interview? What are my rights and duties as an employee? Today he passes on his experience to other job seekers.

Sayed was able to convince the interviewers that he was the man for the job. He was asked if he wanted to work in one of the cafés belonging to the LaPoire Group.

Sayed quickly settled into work in the gastronomy sector. His colleagues supported him and his employer offered him long-term prospects.

The jobs the National Employment Pact (NEP) organise guarantee fair conditions. a minimum wage, social benefits and employment contracts.

There is enormous fluctuation on the Egyptian job market. Sayed has worked at Beano’s café for four years now and sees himself working here in five years’ time too.

In the meantime, Sayed has learned a thing or two about running a café. He can imagine having his own at some point and so creating jobs for others.