A recently completed World Bank pilot project, Development of Businesses and Entrepreneurship for Syrians under Temporary Protection and Turkish Citizens showed that targeted, multi-faceted programs for entrepreneurs can help create jobs in small and medium enterprises. With the provision of different support mechanisms (teaching, training and equipment) put in place for both communities, 16 Syrian entrepreneurs, of which six are women, established new businesses in viable sectors. In addition, 50 SMEs (26 Turkish and 24 owned by Syrian refugees) that exceeded the project’s target of supporting 34 SMEs received financial support. A number of 125 jobs were created in existing and newly established companies.
In 2022, Türkiye hosts the largest refugee population in the world, with approximately 4 million refugees, of which more than 3.7 million are Syrians under Temporary Protection (SuTP). The arrival of Syrian refugees puts stress on social services, and increased competition for work, housing and social services. But the Government of Türkiye facilitated their access to critical public services such as education, health and infrastructure and gave displaced Syrians access to services and to formal employment. However, provinces such as Gaziantep, the project’s pilot city with a high presence of SuTPs, have limited capacity to accommodate the large influx of SuTPs and they need support to access social services and employment.
The World Bank supported the Turkish government’s response to the humanitarian and development challenges of the Syrian refugee crisis, with a focus on promoting economic self-reliance, increasing access to basic services, and piloting an intervention mechanism to support both refugees. and host community. The project sought to support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Syrians under Temporary Protection (SuTP) and Turkish citizens in the pilot province of Gaziantep. The project established two windows with calls for proposals. Under the first window, the Turkish Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB), a public institution responsible for increasing the share of SMEs and entrepreneurs in economic and social development, provided technical and financial support. to facilitate the establishment of new Syrian-led companies. refugees. These companies are designed as incubators, with a focus on market access, customer evaluation, and business competitiveness. Under the second window, KOSGEB provided existing businesses – both Turkish and Syrian-led – with a mix of technological inputs, such as equipment and software, as well as KOSGEB’s expertise. This strategy aims to create new jobs for both Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens.
The project supported businesses in a wide range of sectors, from shoemaking and baklava production to medical equipment manufacturing and computer programming. The project leveraged existing KOSGEB support programs with tailored interventions to promote the participation of SuTPs, such as translating KOSGEB training modules into Arabic and English for non-Turkish speakers, identifying specific needs of vulnerable target groups, and developing a model for targeting and selecting beneficiaries.
The initial assessment of the pilot project program indicates that the companies benefited greatly from the financial support, especially to enhance their technological capacities and hire technical staff to use the new equipment. All the beneficiary companies used the funds to purchase machinery, one-third of them acquired additional software, and two-thirds hired inexperienced workers who were given on-the-job training to overcome major bottleneck in the required manpower.
The extended technical capacity gave companies an incentive to expand production capacity with additional private investment. A beneficiary company that manufactures hospital equipment received equipment support from the project and it increased its workforce from 20-30 to 130. Another company in the shoe manufacturing industry increased its total sales from TL 4 million to TL 5 million annually despite the hardship imposed by the pandemic. Companies also improved their institutional and market penetration capacities, both in foreign markets and domestically. About 75 percent of successful companies hire professional department managers outside their families during project implementation. Greater participation in the market, adaptation to local preferences, and greater professionalism in developing their business strategy seem to be the main results for companies.
In addition to the increased capacity of companies, the project has a longer-term impact related to the economic integration of SuTPs and Turkish citizens in the formal labor market. The project builds on KOSGEB’s existing entrepreneurship and project support programs and services — adapted for use by SuTPs. The one-on-one monitoring and advisory services provided by KOSGEB’s local staff to companies, helped to quickly identify business needs and priorities. Due to this close contact, especially the SuTP companies, they have increased their experience of communicating in an official dialogue with a public agency – which strengthens the trust of vulnerable communities in legal frameworks, which increasing their confidence in applying for such grants in the future and generating formal employment in the local economy. Great intervention by KOSGEB, a public agency whose institutional mandate is to deliver such programs, ensured the sustainability and scalability of this pilot project, contributing to the promotion of formal jobs and entrepreneurship for vulnerable communities .
The following results were achieved between 2019 and 2021:
60 SuTP candidates successfully completed entrepreneurship training, 26 entrepreneurs were identified for additional support where 16 of the entrepreneurs, of which six were women, received ‘start-up business support’ (work support, start- up advances, machinery, equipment, and software funding as well as technical support) to establish their businesses.
50 existing Turkish and Syrian-led businesses were provided with equipment, software, and expertise, exceeding the project’s target of 34.
125 new jobs were created for SuTP and Turkish citizens.
KOSGEB’s capacity for designing, delivering and monitoring entrepreneurship services is strengthened through trainings with a focus on project management and working in the context of refugees.
KOSGEB entrepreneurship trainings in Turkish were developed for Arabic speaking communities in this project and made available for SuTPs
Aidah Alwani, a Syrian beneficiary of the project, provides 3D design services to the textile sector and develops e-commerce websites and mobile applications for companies. He worked as a freelancer until he founded his business with support from the project, which provided software and equipment for his company.
“I studied Arabic Literature in Syria, but technology, especially computer programming, is my passion. At first, we continued to work even with some difficulties, as in any newly established business. Now, two years after the project started, we are making money from our own business and the future is promising for us.
Baris Ozbicki, owner of a medical manufacturing firm, received a digital robot production line that allows his firm to produce medical products faster and with better quality. His team, in turn, provided technical support to improve the skills of Syrian employees working at the firm. As a result, the company’s production capacity increased by 40 percent. Technical support from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB), the project’s implementing agency, helped “build the capacities of our employees, in line with industry standards,” Baris said. “We have brought our business to a global level in two years. We now have the confidence in ourselves to compete with other companies in other countries.”
Contribution of the World Bank Group
The World Bank administered the $2 million European Union (EU) Facility for Refugees in Türkiye (FRiT) grant and provided implementation and technical support to the implementing agency, KOSGEB.
The project was funded by a €1.84 million grant (approximately $2 million) from the European Union (EU) Facility for Refugees in Türkiye (FRiT) and implemented by KOSGEB. KOSGEB has worked closely with local stakeholders including municipalities, business associations (the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Industry), academia (Gaziantep University), and NGOs (Turkish Red Crescent).
By completing this pilot project, KOSGEB demonstrated its capacity for implementation, and was selected as the implementing agency of a larger entrepreneurship project approved under the second tranche of FRiT.