Home Business Muslim entrepreneurs struggle with inflation during the Ramadan period of giving

Muslim entrepreneurs struggle with inflation during the Ramadan period of giving

Muslim entrepreneurs struggle with inflation during the Ramadan period of giving

With Ramadan in full swing, Muslim entrepreneurs say rising food prices and rising inflation are changing the way celebrations look this year.

Ramadan runs from March 22 to April 20 and marks a month-long festival of prayer, fasting, gathering and giving in the Muslim community.

Muslim business owners in BC say that to keep up with the spirit of the season, they are expected to offer deals and discounts, as well as make donations to local mosques and charities.

But this year, companies are offering fewer Ramadan specials and have had to raise prices.

“I have no choice but to raise the prices. We try to be careful…because ultimately you have to make it affordable for the people,” said Mossa Mohaidly, owner of the Vancouver-based supermarket. Jasmine halal meat and Mediterranean food.

Mohaidly and other entrepreneurs are asking the federal government to give more support to small businesses. They say various costs, from high food prices to rising rents and rising minimum wages, have made it difficult for companies to contain costs this year.

“The rise of logistics, transportation, raw materials, overseas labor shortage, when you calculate all this, it puts a lot of problems on smaller companies,” said Mohaidly.

Mossa Mohaidly says his grocery and wholesale business have been hit by several rising costs, forcing him to raise prices during Ramadan. (Maggie Macpherson/CBC)

Challenging costs

Iqbal Jabar, the owner of Barney’s Chicken and Pizza in Surrey, says he has kept costs down for Ramadan despite almost zero profit margins for himself.

“At this time of year, we worry about helping each other, whether Muslims or non-Muslims,” ​​he said.

Jabar says halal products, such as chicken and steak, were expensive in the beginning, but prices have now risen by nearly 25 to 35 percent. He says his halal suppliers claim their costs have also increased, leading to higher prices.

“[Small businesses] are the last [in the supply chain]. We have no one else to charge but the consumer. But there’s only so much we can charge a consumer.”

Mohaidly says halal meat is meat that is humanely cared for and slaughtered in accordance with Islamic traditions.

Rushd Khan, the owner of Gulberg Restaurant in Surrey, says one of their most popular offerings during Ramadan is kachori, or a deep-fried flaky pasty filled with meat.

He says they reluctantly raised the price of the patty from $5.99 to $6.99 because of a nearly 40 percent price hike for ingredients like flour and oil.

Khan says that while Gulberg still has Ramadan deals, none of those offers will include meat dishes.

“A big part of Ramadan is about giving back… so we wouldn’t feel good if we didn’t participate.”

“We, as Muslims, are also looking for similar promotions at other restaurants and other supermarkets.”

Jabar says sales of halal restaurants decline during Ramadan because most Muslims won’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. The fast ends each day with Iftar, a meal usually shared with others.

“Business is going down because Muslims… only eat at certain hours. So we’re in a hurry for two to three hours at the most. Everything else is slower,” Jabar said.

A man in a blue hoodie stands in front of a restaurant with a sign reading 'Gulberg Restaurant, Pakistani & Indian Cuisine'.Rushd Khan, the owner of Gulberg Restaurant, says his restaurant’s deals will not include meat dishes this year due to rising costs. (Maggie Macpherson/CBC)

‘Hasn’t been easy’

Mohaidly says his company’s wholesale division mainly imports dates for local stores. Dates play a vital role during Ramadan and are eaten to mark the end of the daily fast.

But Mohaidly says inflation is causing people to buy fewer dates than usual.

“[For example]I had a customer who wanted to buy about 20 boxes [of dates]but ended up buying only 10 boxes… [because] that’s what he can afford in the end,” Mohaidly said.

Jabar says small businesses and customers are most impacted by fluctuating costs. He hopes that the government will intervene to regulate those prices on groceries.

“I’ll pick up one day [a box of tomatoes] for $35… the next day it’s $45… There’s no consistency [in pricing]he said, adding that he fears many companies will “go belly up” soon.

“It wasn’t easy at all, but we keep going [and] we’re going to take it as long as possible… At least then we tried.

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