Celebrating Newcomer Businesses in Greater Saint John: Mashawi Zein

Yamama and Zein Al abdin with their family.

When Yamama and Zein Al abdin arrived in Saint John from Egypt in the winter of 2016, they didn’t have plans to start a business, but after attending a local event their journey as entrepreneurs began.

“We attended an event in Samuel-de-Champlain school and we presented Syrian Food,” they explained. “People loved our food and they asked us to have a
full-time restaurant.”

The Al abdin’s started small and attended local markets such as the Saint John Night Market and Sunday favourite, Queen Square Farmer’s Market.

As with many entrepreneurs the Al adbin’s experienced many challenges along the way but being newcomers to Canada – they have had to overcome even more obstacles.

“Everything was challenging but the most challenging was introducing ourselves to financial institutes as business owners,” they said. “The banks counted us as refugees with no skills. As immigrants you come as refugees with nothing, we built ourselves up from scratch.”

In five short years, the Al abdins have certainly displayed their investment in the Saint John community, with their most recent business Mashawa Zein opening on Germain Street and offering a wide selection of Syrian Food.

“The rewarding thing is the feeling of independence, more than staying home and wait for a cheque,” they said.

Beyond the feeling of accomplishment and offering a service to the community, the Al abdins explained how they love learning and combining their culture with new cultures in Canada.

Whether you’re in the mood for a strong coffee or a Syrian Speciality Feast, check out this unique spot in Uptown Saint John the next time you are looking to support local.

View Mashawi Zein’s platforms below!

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