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Maryam is a stronger woman in Jokkmokk

Updated on April 21, 2011

Back in Iran, Maryam Parvardeh was a successful player in the international basketball team and a senior official in the sports department, all at the same time as running a large sports complex. Despite her success, her political stance against the Islamic regime and the fact that she hid political activists in the sports facility, led to her arrest and imprisonment in 1981. It was a difficult period for her.

Today Maryam runs a restaurant in Jokkmokk called the Smedjan. When Maryam and her family came to Sweden in the mid-1990s, they had to build completely new lives for themselves. Their chosen solution to earning a living was starting a restaurant in Stockholm. “We left our homes, jobs, houses, cars and all our financial security in Iran and started from scratch in Sweden. Moving from Stockholm to Norrbotten was not easy either”, says Maryam, who will soon have lived in Jokkmokk for five years.

She has worked for sixteen years in the catering industry and may now, thanks to the ‘Project for entrepreneurs with foreign backgrounds’, learn how to cook Swedish home cooked food from scratch. Something she has longed for. My cooking coach is a nice lady who has also become my friend. She has taught me a lot about Swedish food including cakes and pastries. I felt quite insecure from the beginning, but now, thanks to Marta Eriksson and her training, I feel competent and confident. Now I can bake more varieties of cakes than I ever thought possible.

Maryam says that she has completed a course in GI cooking to widen the range of dishes the restaurant offers. Maryam has also received coaching and financial help to structure the finances of the company. Her accounting coach has also stressed the importance of good kitchen finance and to really take stock of the pantry and freezers before making new purchases. “She has taught me a lot. Since my husband has worked in the bank, we have both met Susan Granström and it has been very fruitful.” says Maryam.

People with immigrant backgrounds have to work hard and Maryam appreciates all the projects that contribute to the development of small businesses. Since Jokkmokk is a small community, she clearly feels that Strukturum, through various avenues, will help enormously. “And here it does not matter if you are Swedish or are from an ethnic minority, "she says.

Maryam says that it is a great loss that immigrants cannot use their knowledge and experience from their professions in their homelands. All who come to Sweden have to begin again, to struggle and work hard, often twice as much as nationals, to prove themselves. Besides running a business outside of their existing qualifications, mastering their new language can create some uncertainty, but she finds that the years in Jokkmokk have been extremely positive. “I have attended many meetings with business women and I have learned a lot. Many managers in Jokkmokk are women and it is good for me to see this. I have become a much stronger person. I have developed a strong self-confidence here in Jokkmokk” says Maryam Parvardeh.


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      Calogero 7 years ago

      Amazing photos.