Meet Farid Karimi:

Empethetic Entrepreneur

 

June 2015

 

Farid Karimi cares about people. A refugee from Afghanistan, Farid grew two loans from Opening Doors into a thriving electronics business by building strong relationships with customers and business-people. Now a wholesaler at the local flea markets, Farid focuses his gaze on those in need.

 

Farid Karimi, owner of Star ElectronicsFarid Karimi couldn’t take his eyes off of the stranger’s bare feet. Red and chafed, they crunched painfully through the snow. Glancing down at his own trendy sneakers, Farid felt a mixture of sadness and resolve that made him step out of his shoes and hand them to the stranger. Walking away in the cold, he felt warmed by the man’s grateful smile.

 

Farid’s eyes well up with compassion when he tells this story. A refugee from Afghanistan, Farid also grew up in meager living conditions. “We didn’t have much to eat,” he recalls. “Now, I have a car, an apartment, and can eat. I want to serve other people.” Farid’s desire to help the hungry drives his business mindset. Now a thriving wholesaler at the Galt and San Jose flea markets, Farid’s success allows him to send $100 to three struggling families back in Afghanistan every month, and he hopes to reach even more. “[A]ll people for me are like my brothers and sisters,” he says.

 

While his flourishing electronics business and blossoming network suggest otherwise, Farid came to the United States with limited resources. A friend helped him find an opening at the San Jose flea market, where he set up Star Electronics from the back of his truck. Even after upgrading to a table space, Farid lacked the financial capital to expand further.

 

Star ElectronicsFarid’s fortunes turned when he met Mohammed Mahmood, Business Specialist, from Opening Doors. Mahmood’s warm demeanor left such a striking impression on Farid that he decided to move to Sacramento and apply for a loan. The first loan from Opening Doors helped him gain a foothold in the flea market, and the second allowed him to travel to China and build key relationships with distributors. This trip catapulted Farid from vendor to wholesaler and opened a door to the Galt flea market.

 

Financial support from Opening Doors gave Farid the means to expand, but Farid’s knack for networking accounts for much of his success. His reliable and honest business ethics have helped him seek out like-minded businesspeople oversees. Although they had no prior relationship, Farid forged a partnership with Chinese distributor Golling after witnessing her hospitality and examining her goods firsthand. “I knew [Golling] was a good person,” he said of his decision to sell her wares. What began as a tentative business deal has strengthened into a partnership of mutual trust and professionalism. Today, Farid receives $30,000-$50,000 worth of electronics, and his own sales have grown six fold.

 

Farid might be a financially successful business owner, but he defines his achievements by relationships, not revenue. “We are very close friends,” he says fondly of his overseas distributor. His partnership with Golling attracted other international vendors who now ship him their merchandise. At home, Farid’s stellar service keeps customers coming back to his stand. “If they need something, I make sure to get what they want,” he says. “I don’t lose a customer.”

 

Farid’s philosophy reflects Opening Doors’ faith in the power of people, regardless of their background or financial status. “If Opening Doors did not give me a loan, I couldn’t have gone to China,” he says. He is currently taking business classes at American River College and hopes to combine his experience with a certificate that will help him expand his reach to larger buyers.

 

More importantly, however, Opening Doors helped Farid realize his dream of helping others. “We have to love everybody, not just our people,” he says. As with the stranger in the snow, Farid lends himself to others by connecting entrepreneurs who are seeking business assistance to Opening Doors. He says, “If my business grows, I want to help poor people.”

 

Consider donating to help refugee entrepreneurs like Farid.

 

 

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