Gaziantep (in Turkey) has seen a large influx of Syrian refugees. The longer refugees stay in Turkey, the more urgent it becomes that they can provide their own livelihood through employment or entrepreneurship.
The aim of this project is to further strengthen the capacity of the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce (GCC) in reaching out to refugee-driven companies through improved strategic planning. To do so, the ‘Capacity Building for Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce project’ strengthens the local SME support infrastructure by supporting the implementation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
This is realised by increasing the internal capacities and skills to deliver services to SME’s and entrepreneurs, developing new products and services with a specific focus on refugee-driven enterprises, developing financial sustainability and by increasing the scope and outreach of GCC to serve a wider refugee driven SME population.
By the end of the project, the GCC is expected to operate independently and in a sustainable manner. The project is further expected to contribute to business development for the EBRD Advice for Small Businesses. To achieve these objectives, the following steps will be taken. Within the first phase, a needs assessment with the GCC will be conducted to identify areas of interventions. The second phase follows the results of the needs assessment and takes international best practices into account. The third phase undertakes information sharing, dissemination and marketing – and outreach activities to support the GCC in promoting its services locally.
Turkey hosts 2.5 million Syrian refugees. These are official figures but in reality the number is estimated to be much higher. Most refugees live in the border areas of southeast Turkey, the most impoverished region of Turkey. The majority of Syrian refugees (90%) reside outside of the camps. Nearly half of the refugee population is under the age of 18. Unlike with other longer and riskier refugee escape routes where mostly young men represent the migration stream, more than half of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are represented by women.
Syrian refugees face numerous difficulties in providing their own livelihoods. Until the problem of work permits is resolved, refugees’ only livelihood options are through informal work. Despite this, an estimated 400,000 Syrians are working in Turkey, mostly in unskilled positions like textile (including shoe and carpet production), construction, agriculture (olive oil, grapes, etc.), and small-scale manufacturing. Some Syrian citizens have become entrepreneurs, for instance in construction, services (restaurants, wholesale, pastry shops) and textiles.
In response the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has developed a Syrian Refugee Response programme consisting three pillars: infrastructure, economic inclusion and SME development.
The capacity building project is part of the SME development pillar which aims to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in provinces with a large refugee presence to strengthen integration and resilience, as well as support employment of Syrian refugees by strengthening the SME ecosystem in southeast Turkey.
The project is implemented in Gaziantep in partnership with the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and funded by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).