• Cansın Bakırcıoğlu | Senior Communications Assistant

Do you think one’s passion can become a source of income? For Benide Yolcu, the answer is yes! 

Benide, a 48-year-old mother and wife who lives in İstanbul, has been baking pastries for boutique pastry shops for more than a decade. Her journey began with a year of baking and cooking at home. Feeling like she could go further, she decided to enrol in private courses. She had an unstoppable appetite for knowledge, and each course added a new layer of competence to her already extensive skill set. After preparing herself with all this learning, she made the decision to transform her hobby into a business, supported by her friends and family. 

She started by partnering up with pastry shops, using the money she earned to upgrade her baking tools. The more time and effort she invested in her business, the more she gained a diverse customer network, even forming friendships with many of them. This helped her to expand her social circle. “This job has brought many wonderful people into my life,” says Benide. 

The new cake order is getting ready! Benide is preparing the ingredients meticulously. Photo: IOM/Cansın Bakırcıoğlu

Still, life has had its share of difficulties. A chronic arm injury threatened her to slow down her artistic pace. Despite her family's support, the limitations became apparent – especially when it came to the work that required muscle strength, such as rolling out fondant. 

She crossed paths with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the right moment, hearing about a cash grant programme through an announcement from local authorities. After successfully applying for the grant, IOM helped her reinforce her kitchen with the necessary supplies. This programme is part of IOM’s efforts to strengthen the livelihoods of migrant, refugee and local communities nationwide, contributing to socio-economic development and fostering greater social cohesion.

Benide is rolling out the fondant with her new equipment easily and faster than before. Photo: IOM/Cansın Bakırcıoğlu

“Thanks to the new equipment, I no longer need to strain my arm, and I can accept more orders easily," remarks Benide. “Previously, I was thinking about whether I would be able to keep up with the orders, but now the increase in my customers does not scare me. I can take more orders without hesitating." 

Five months since receiving IOM’s support, she is now delivering orders ahead of time. Though her production has escalated, she is now in a better position to spend and cherish moments with her family. 

In her IOM-supported kitchen, Benide is, now, not worrying whether she would be able to keep up with the orders or not. She is enjoying even more when she's garnishing her newly baked cakes. Photo: IOM/Cansın Bakırcıoğlu

“As a woman who works and contributes to the household economy, my self-confidence has increased even more. It is a beautiful thing for a person to stand on her own feet," Benide proudly exclaims. “Every woman who has time should definitely attend courses provided by experts and improve herself. All women should get an education and stand on their own feet.” 

For Benide, the future glimmers with promises of growth, both in her professional and personal life. 


IOM’s cash grant programme is financially supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). In 2023, over 180 individuals from migrant, refugee and local communities benefitted from the programme.