Two UAE-based Filipina entrepreneurs have recently opened a seafood restaurant in the host country and employed 17 Filipinos who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lourds Adalia Evertse and Maria Christine Caringal Melad have ventured into entrepreneurship after spending more than a decade overseas. They opened the Spice Grill restaurant at the Al Majaz Waterfront in the emirate of Sharjah.
“This is something we are proud of, as we have given jobs to 17 individuals, who have families to provide [back home],” Evertse, 34, who originally hails from Laguna, told Rappler.
She arrived in the country in 2007 and rose through the ranks, from being an administrative staff to being a top executive at a business set-up consultancy firm where she stayed for a decade.
Evertse is a hotel and restaurant management degree holder. She also experienced being jobless in 2009 when Dubai saw a recession.
She revealed that there were around 200 applicants who wanted to apply to their restaurant, the majority of whom worked in the food, beverage, and hospitality sectors.
“There were chefs, waiters, and waitresses, baristas, even cruise ship staff, among others. We asked everyone about their story and were moved about their struggles during these trying times, which was why we decided to prioritize those who have lost their jobs,” she added.
According to Melad, establishing a business amid the ongoing pandemic was very challenging.
“It has been very difficult financially, and with a lot of changes and delay because of the situation. Our opening was pushed back, but our suppliers and the government have been very helpful and considerate,” she added.
Melad, 35, arrived in the country 12 years ago with a broadcast communication degree.
The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) was among those who supported their restaurant project.
Taking a huge leap from the corporate world to the restaurant business, Melad said it was about following what her heart desires.
“I became a chef because I’ve always had a huge passion for food and the nature of it. Being a chef, at the same time, an entrepreneur in the food industry, I can express ideas through food and think of innovative ways to present it,” she added.