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June 21, 2022

B2B: Syrian and Turkish entrepreneurs network

SPARK organised conferences and business-to-business (B2B) meetings to provide Turkish and Syrian entrepreneurs with the opportunity to network and collaborate in future endeavours. Gathering like-minded entrepreneurs, locals and refugees, allow for new connections and sharing of similar goals and challenges to happen

Refugee entrepreneurs often face challenges when adapting to a new country. They have to start afresh and establish themselves knowing there will be social or economic barriers to their integration in the market, making trustworthy connections and finding the right customers and/ or suppliers. For many refugee entrepreneurs, growing their businesses also contributes to their community in financial and social ways.

SPARK organised business networking conferences and B2B meetings to support refugee entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners to increase their cohesion with Turkish SMEs in the cities Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Adana and Hatay, with the financial support of the European Union. These meetings provided participants with the opportunity to network and learn about the Turkish market and economy from various experts. Making new and the right kind of connections can help a business thrive and employ more people, an objective SPARK upholds to increase the livelihoods of refugee and vulnerable individuals through better jobs. 

Events in each city entailed a different theme and had a variety of experts including government representatives, banking officials, experts, and successful business people who delivered facts and information about the market and economy in Turkey as well as export opportunities. SPARK tailored each theme depending on the business environment and main area of expertise of businesses in the mentioned cities.

The conference and business-to-business meetings bring together entrepreneurs © 2022, SPARK
The conference and business-to-business meetings bring together entrepreneurs © 2022, SPARK
The conference and business-to-business meetings bring together entrepreneurs © 2022, SPARK

In the first event in Şanlıurfa, experts discussed the export opportunities to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Crucial information about governmental incentives regarding the position of exporters was provided in detail as well as general commodities sought after in the MENA markets. The event in Gaziantep centred on the exports to Asia and Latin America where successful business people shared their inspiring accounts of engaging in the exports to Latin America and Asia Pacific markets. They discussed the business environment in these regions, paying special attention to legal procedures and the importance of business cultures and traditions for undergoing exports in these regions. An expert on green economies presented implications posed by the European Green Deal, and the opportunities surrounding carbon footprint certifications provided for businesses exporting to the European Union. 

The conference in Adana focused on business and governance, where, a prominent economist, Prof.Dr. Emre Alkin delivered a speech about establishing governance tools and how to use these to increase business capacity and growth aimed toward export-minded business people. The conference in Hatay had a focus on e-commerce and digitalisation, introducing SME owners in the area to the digital marketplace model. This encouraged them to take the opportunity in digital sales, while big players in e-commerce and logistics sectors like Trendyol and PttAVM provided vital information regarding the current and future trends. 

Following the conferences in each city, SPARK organised B2B meetings where SME owners gathered in roundtable meetups and discussions. B2B meetings group business people who share similar interests or are in the same industry together. During the roundtable discussions, participants introduced their businesses and shared information about the market they are operating in and discussed cooperation opportunities. Meetings are a venue where participants can share issues they face, and discuss potential solutions based on their previous experiences. For example, businesses operating in the construction sector exchanged the latest announcements of major construction projects underway and the latest developments on raw material prices, while smaller businesses consulted with larger businesses for advice. 

SPARK’s B2B meetings were organised to pave the way for Syrian and Turkish businesses to connect and increase collaboration. Hatay Esmergil, a food engineer and agribusiness owner based in Hatay, said Syrian and Turkish business cooperation is important as “Syrian entrepreneurs can solve the problems Turkish companies face when trying to access markets in the Middle East.” Ayman Olabi, a Syrian business owner and an experienced international trader says “we came to Turkey as refugees. War in Syria took longer than expected, and so we decided to do business in Turkey.” According to Ayman, collaborations with Syrian and Turkish-owned businesses have opportunities to work together and partnerships between Syrian and Turkish yield “very good business.”