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May 19, 2020

Taking economic empowerment online in Turkey

Online employability skills, entrepreneurship workshops, career days and a startup weekend. Continued support for young people happens digitally during COVID-19.

Looking to a future post-COVID world, it is hard to imagine now what the impact might be on our private sectors, how many small businesses will be forced to close and the number of people that will lose jobs. In Turkey, just two years ago 500,000 new jobs were created in a single year, and growth was rising before COVID19. With a huge population of 82 million people, including Turks, Syrians and other foreigners, Turkey is one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East in terms of the right to employment. In recent years, almost 100,000 Syrians fleeing war have gained Turkish citizenship, many of them young people ready to work. 

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, SPARK’s main aim was to collaborate with higher education institutions in Turkey and local organisations to boost the employability skills of these young people. With economic empowerment activities and entrepreneurship workshops on offer for SPARK’s nearly 2,000 Syrian and Turkish scholarship holders, many were on a path to stable employment upon graduation. Due to the decision of Turkish Interior Ministry almost two months ago to lockdown, supporting youth to build strong careers and businesses is more important than ever. So all SPARK’s economic empowerment courses were shifted online.

United Work interviewed Nour Houda about her experience delivering online training to 148 students in Turkey.

A career webinar with United Work, a local NGO working to support Syrian employment in Turkey, provided 148 young people with professional skills, including CV writing, interviews, leadership and business idea generation. Crucially, participants received digital certificates, a valuable currency in job search. 

A second online session was provided for 70 young Syrians living in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, about the working culture in Turkey. The three-day-training by Rızık, another local partner specialising in economic resilience, provided young people with training and coaching on employment law within Turkey, which is notoriously difficult to comprehend, even for Turkish natives. To ensure students won’t be apprehended by connectivity issues, internet packages were provided to all.

Kudra, supported by SPARK and financed by the EU Madad Fund, has launched an online Startup Weekend for entrepreneurs in Turkey

This month, an online Startup Weekend for entrepreneurs has been launched with Kudra, another local partner, giving the entrepreneur participants training in budgeting, fundraising, branding, testing and prototyping. By doing this, people will have an opportunity to turn their business ideas into reality. 

With an almost entirely global shift towards more online modes of working and studying, SPARK is glad to keep supporting young people in Turkey with the skills they need to navigate the post-COVID societies we’ll soon find ourselves in. Especially important are the digital and technical skills, and the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ in order to start rebuilding economies and increasing the number of jobs again.