Red Deer tailor Esmat Bayat went public last spring with his desire to protect Canadian health-care workers during the pandemic.
Sewing personal protective equipment, he said, was his way of showing gratitude to the country that had taken him in, along with his wife and children, after they fled wartorn Afghanistan in 2012.
Last week, Bayat came a step closer to this goal by signing a Health Canada licence that allows him to set up a production factory for the creation of personal protective equipment.
He’s now in the process of opening a manufacturing outlet in Edgar Industrial Park for the creation of masks and protective gear for health care and industrial uses.
The tailor and former shoemaker from Kabul plans to run the factory during this COVID-19 crisis — and, hopefully, beyond.
“I had plans when I came to Canada to open a big factory… I have big plans for the future,” he said.
So far, Bayat has trained four family members to help him launch the new business. But if orders take off, he can imagine hiring 12 or more staff in the months ahead.
A private company from Edmonton already contacted him, hoping to purchase 50,000 pieces of equipment. But Bayat said he didn’t have this kind of inventory ready.
This week, he will be discussing the potential of getting a government contract.
“I am very happy that the government of Canada has allowed me to serve our medical family,” said Bayat of his Health Canada licence. “I appreciate it… it gives me big pleasure.”
Last spring, Bayat, who until recently ran a tailoring shop on Little Gaetz, told the Advocate he had ordered a bolt of waterproof fabric that he plans to turn into protective garments to help health-care workers stave off the novel coronavirus.
Since then, Bayat has also purchased additional sewing equipment. He’s still waiting for a large machine that produces hot-air seams that are waterproof and antibacterial — which is necessary for creating the equipment.
The married father of four was driven out of his homeland after the Taliban began carrying out deadly attacks against communities.
Bayat’s family left Kabul for Iran in 2012. As Iran had no Canadian embassy, the family moved to Turkey to make the application to come to Canada as refugees.
The entrepreneur said he remains grateful to live in a peaceful country that’s also offering him this great opportunity.
Bayat can be reached at 403-307-3084.