Setting up a startup is never an easy venture, but 27-year-old Algerian entrepreneur Mehdi Meghzifene faces a different type of challenge.
He faces deportation from the UK and five years prison in Algeria if his ‘tree water’ company, Sibberi is not a financial success and does not fulfil the criteria of his UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.
The big print stipulated on his visa obtained in March 2015 from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) division of the Home Office, Mehdi must be employing at least 10 people and his company must be a financial success before March 2018. If not, the in order for him to receive Permanent Leave to Remain in the UK will expire and he could be deported.
Mehdi, who studied for a MSc in Mathematical Finance at Imperial College London, worked for two years at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Division before set up Sibberi with co-founder Clara Vaisse.
Mehdi and his family fled a civil war when he was nine years old for a better life in Austria. Consequently that means he has avoided compulsory military service at 18 years of age in Algeria and could face a five-year prison sentence if forced to return.
“I have to make Sibberi a success at all costs and I have no other option than for it be a success. There’s no going back. It’s very fortunate that Tree Water is really trending at the moment, surpassing sugary and calorific Coconut water,” said Mehdi.
Sibberi is a tree water company dedicated to bringing nutritious health foods to the UK market. Founded in 2015 bthe company won the Unilever Food for the Future Award and is one of the Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 Finalists.
Inspired by tales of the health-giving properties of birch sap, Sibberi’s co-founders Clara Vaisse and Mehdi Meghzifene embarked on a quest which lead them across Estonia and Latvia to find the pure, unsweetened sap then unavailable in UK stores.
“The moment we tasted fresh birch sap, used by Latvian farmers to make birch sap wine, we knew we wanted to share this ingredient with UK consumers. As we travelled through the rural villages and wild forests of Estonia and Latvia, tasting fresh spring birch sap, Sibberi was born”, said co-founder Vaisse.
The pressure for Mehdi is now on, he deserves as much support as possible.