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EBRD launches mentoring programme for Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey

By Olga Rosca

EBRD launches mentoring programme for Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey

  • EBRD and Human Development Foundation (INGEV) launch mentoring scheme for Syrian refugee entrepreneurs in Istanbul
  • 24 business people matched with top Turkish managers in Istanbul and Mersin
  • Programme helps refugees grow their businesses and supports integration

Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey, who have fled the conflict in their home country, will have access to local business networks and know-how to build their managerial capacity thanks to a mentoring programme launched by the EBRD today.

Turkey is the biggest recipient of Syrian refugees in the world and is currently providing shelter to more than 3.6 million Syrians, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The huge inflow is a severe humanitarian and economic challenge for the host country.

Syrians who enter Turkey with a valid passport have foreigner status and can start businesses. According to the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, the number of registered companies with Syrian owners or partners in Turkey is estimated to be over 10,000 and they employ around 100,000 people.


Syrian entrepreneurs had the chance to meet their mentors in person today. They introduced their businesses and already started to discuss challenges and expectations.


Most of the companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the predominant segment of the Turkish economy. In order to better integrate the Syrian-led businesses and improve their competitiveness the EBRD, together with the Human Development Foundation (INGEV), will match 24 Syrian entrepreneurs who currently live in Istanbul and in the south-eastern city of Mersin with Turkish professionals. The aim is to help them improve the performance of their businesses in areas such as marketing, business development and sales.

The pool of Turkish entrepreneurs joining this initiative includes well-known business representatives such as Murat Şahin, the founder of Secure Drive, a firm offering door-to-door shared shuttle rides to and from airports; Ali Rıza Babaoğlan, an angel investor and digital businessman; and Alemşah Öztürk, the CEO of marketing agency 4129Grey.

The mentoring initiative is part of the EBRD’s Refugee Response in Turkey, which focuses on economic inclusion, support of SMEs and infrastructure development. To date, more than 130 small businesses in regions hosting large numbers of refugees have benefited from advisory support.

The EBRD also partnered with the chambers of commerce in Mersin as well as Gaziantep to help provide better services to SMEs, including businesses owned by Syrian entrepreneurs. As a result, both chambers started to offer more inclusive and comprehensive services through their Syrian desks and increased their membership numbers.

INGEV is an independent non-profit civil society organisation with the mission of contributing to human development and social good through advocacy, research and social marketing programmes.

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Turkey and has invested over €11 billion in 289 projects in the country since 2009, including €79 million financing provided directly to SMEs. The Bank has also provided advisory support to 750 SMEs across Turkey. The overwhelming majority of EBRD investments in Turkey are in the private sector.

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