Increased and improved services to private companies in region hosting large numbers of refugees
The EBRD and the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry are joining forces to support and encourage entrepreneurship in the port city of Mersin, an economic hub in southern Turkey.
The partners will work together to strengthen the ability of the business organisation to deliver more and better services to private sector companies.
A city with more than 1.5 million inhabitants, Mersin has seen rapid population growth in recent years, partly due to the influx of refugees from neighbouring Syria. The number of officially registered Syrian refugees is 140,000 but the real refugee population might be as high as 300,000.
Increasing cross-border economic ties is proving that refugees need and want to be economically active, employ their skills and contribute to their host country’s well-being. As part of this new project, the EBRD and the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry will identify opportunities and barriers for the private sector in the region, including enterprises run by refugees. New services will be designed and put in place to help entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reach their potential.
The project will be implemented by the Confederation of Danish Industry, Denmark’s largest business organisation with 10,000 members, and SPARK, a Dutch NGO focused on education and entrepreneurship in post-conflict communities.
A similar project is being carried out in Gaziantep, another major south-eastern Turkish city affected by the refugee influx.
Paolo Monaco, Regional Head of SME Finance and Development at the EBRD, said: "The challenges posed by the influx of Syrian refugees cannot be solved easily and certainly not by one party. It is an issue that calls for everyone to do their part, focusing on what they do best. We at the EBRD are happy to partner with the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help deliver more and better services to local firms and encourage investment – by Turkish and Syrian entrepreneurs alike – which can create employment and opportunities to the region and its people.”
Serafettin Asut, President of the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: “We are always happy to contribute and be part of all initiatives that aim to improve commercial and economic activities in the region. Of the 20,000 companies in Mersin, 2,200 of them are established by foreign investment. There are 1,200 Syrian-owned companies registered to our Chamber. These companies initiated export operations to new markets in the Middle East and Africa. Mersin’s relation with Syria dates back to old times. As a result of our long history, these companies choose to invest in Mersin. We are ready to support and be involved in all projects that will increase entrepreneurship.”
As part of building economic resilience in Turkish regions hosting large numbers of refugees, the EBRD has financed the acquisition of 50 new green buses for the city of Gaziantep. The Bank has also financed hospitals in Gaziantep and Adana, cities where rapid population growth – partly due to the influx of refugees – has required a serious boost to the healthcare services.
The EBRD is a major investor in Turkey. Since 2009, it has invested €10 billion in various sectors of the Turkish economy, with almost all investments in the private sector.
In 2017 alone, the EBRD invested €1.6 billion in 51 projects in the country. Almost a third of this financing was provided in Turkish lira.