April 20, 2015

A Force to Reconcile With: Launch of the Gaziantep Youth Entrepreneurship Programme



Students benefitted from the experience and inspirational stories from successful businessmen

SPARK, The Asfari Foundation and Gaziantep University have partnered up to launch the Gaziantep Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (GYEP) 2015 on the 10th of April. The GYEP gives the opportunity to Syrian and Turkish youth to become young entrepreneurs. This will strengthen and improve the relationship between the Turkish and Syrian communities and will contribute to the local economy in Gaziantep. Although the Syrians were initially welcomed by the Turkish community in Gaziantep, the increasing number of Syrian refugees has created some tension and many Turks now perceive Syrians as a burden rather than a potential partner. GYEP aims to change this by highlighting the opportunities entrepreneurship provides for young people living in a rapidly growing economy.

Both Turkish and Syrian local networks, businesses, NGO’s, universities, and other institutes were directly involved in the promotion of the project. In total, GYEP mobilized nearly 200 young potential entrepreneurs. Amongst the applicants, 50 Syrians and 50 Turks were selected to participate in the introductory training sessions on the 10th and 11th of April. During these trainings, the young applicants were inspired by the stories of successful local businessmen and were taught the basics of entrepreneurship. They also participated in an interactive team building exercise, in which they worked in small groups to exchange and further develop their business ideas. Out of the 100 participants, 15 Syrians and 15 Turks have been selected to continue on to the next phase of the GYEP which consists of intensive Business plan writing and Business skills trainings, providing them with the necessary skills to implement successful sustainable business ideas into action. During the trainings, participants have been honored with the presence of high officials like Mr. Bora Tezel, honorary consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Gaziantep and the Rector of Gaziantep University, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Yavuz Coskun who expressed their support and congratulated the participants.

Currently, GYEP participants are receiving trainings and are preparing for the final presentation of their business plan. An independent jury will select the three entrepreneurs with the best and most innovative business ideas. The winners will receive an additional three months of coaching and mentoring and a capital grant to start-up their businesses. The winners will be celebrated during the award ceremony of the project on the 29th of April. We wish all our applicants good luck!


In teams, participants take up the challenge to build the highest spaghetti tower to hold a marshmallow