Project Layali is a not-for-profit, sustainable social enterprise focused on opening small businesses around Athens, employing and training refugees and migrants. All of the revenues go towards making a social impact. The goals of the project are to create a sustainable way for refugees and migrants to generate income (not solely relying on donations) and live self-sufficient lives through permanent and well-paid job placements. The project also seeks to raise awareness regarding the important role migrants and refugees play in Greece’s future by creating spaces in which refugees, Greeks and tourists can interact. “Layali” is an Arabic expression used to express nostalgia for good times, literally meaning “my nights”.
Project Layali has opened several social enterprises, including Layali Shop, Layali Salon and Tastes of Dasmascus.
Layali shop was one of seven enterprises chosen in a competition by the Mayor of Athens to have a space in the Stoa Emporon (a historical shopping gallery near Syntagma Square). It sold handmade goods made by refugees from Iran, Afghanistan and Syria. Layali also offered cultural exchange workshops and events, including Arabic calligraphy and Nowruz (Iranian newyear celebrations), as an effort to get locals to learn more about Middle Eastern culture. After 18 months, it closed in March 2020. During its operation, Layali shop employed 14 refugees.
Layali Salon was a small eco-friendly beauty and hairdressing salon which employed and trained migrants and refugees to work in the beauty industry. During 2020, the salon trained 10 refugees in hairdressing as well as employed 5 refugees who were trained to be hairdressers and speak Greek. The employees came from Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Syria. The salon is currently being transformed into a space solely for training. All of the products are eco-friendly and are not tested on animals. The salon received donations from Greek natural hair product brands.
Tastes of Damascus
Tastes of Dasmascus opened in February 2020 on Fokionos Negri in Kipseli. An eco-friendly restaurant, it employs refugees and migrants and offers delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes from Syria. As well as the restaurant, Tastes of Damascus offers a catering service that has already served food at several events in 2020. There are future plans of opening a Layali hotel, offering boutique accommodation to tourists in Athens.
Layali’s exciting new project in the works is Palmyra beer. The vegan beer will be produced in the centre of Athens in partnership with an existing Greek brewery. It will be served at Tastes of Damascus and hopefully at other venues in the future. The aim of this project is to offer people who may not have the time or money to directly donate or volunteer the chance to support refugees in Athens.