• Begüm Başaran | Communications Assistant

Hasan was living in Aleppo, Syria, when the conflict broke out and the situation deteriorated, with rising unemployment and economic difficulties. In 2012, at the age of 14, Hasan's family decided to flee to Türkiye. 

Over a decade later, Hasan could not imagine how far he had come. He is married with two children and, has become fluent in the Turkish language. Though he adapted to life in Türkiye relatively easily, he was always in the search for his calling. 

With a family history rooted in the textile industry, Hasan began working in various textile firms when he arrived. In 2021, he decided he was ready to venture into entrepreneurship and start something of his own, establishing the Kardeşler Textile Company, which means ‘brotherhood’ in Turkish. As the name suggests, Hasan aims — through his business — to promote unity and coexistence between Syrian and Turkish communities. 

"In our world, getting things done efficiently and being productive are important. Communities that work hard together set the path toward a prosperous future," says Hasan, emphasizing the importance of livelihood and education opportunities for both migrant and host communities. 

Hasan working in his production facility in Izmir. Photos: IOM/Begüm Başaran.

One day, scrolling through social media, Hasan learned about the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Enterprise Development Fund (EDF), a programme that aims to spur socioeconomic development by offering tailored support to small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The programme provides the necessary financial resources to aid SMEs their growth, job creation and investment in the future. 

Hasan recognized that his business lacked some elements that could improve it. He wanted to diversify, expand into new markets and harness advanced technology, all of which required additional financing. He did not hesitate to apply to the programme. 

When he was accepted, he felt that he was one step closer to achieving his goals. The support enabled him to upgrade his machinery, significantly improving the quality and quantity of production and expanding his team. Today, he provides employment to seven people of mixed nationalities – a reminder of the ‘brotherhood’ driving his business. 

Five months since receiving support, Hasan’s dream of a brighter future is set in motion, exemplifying the value of resilience and hard work for people who have gone through difficult migration journeys. 

Esma smiles in her workshop as she reflects on her progress. Photo: IOM/Begüm Başaran.

Esma, a Turkish entrepreneur, received similar support through the programme. 

Her decision in 2019 to start her textile business was rooted in her years of experience in the industry. She had to navigate a unique set of challenges, most notably the male-dominated nature of the industry which often leads to discrimination.  

“I needed financial support to grow my business. With the fund I obtained, I was able to add essential machinery to my production facilities, which resulted in an increase in production capacity and a growth in the number of employees,” she expresses. With time, Esma proved herself to others, shattering the glass ceiling which so often hinders women’s progress. 

Esma operates the new machine she purchased with the support she received. Photos: IOM/Begüm Başaran.

Since then, Esma has generated employment opportunities for four more people, now having a team of fourteen. 

Despite the initial challenges in integrating Turkish and Syrian employees due to cultural differences, she proudly exclaims that successful exchange and productive collaboration now occurs place within her team. 

With a more stable business, Esma has not stopped giving back. She offers vocational training to high school students and homemakers with limited experience. 

Hasan smiles in her workshop. Photo: IOM/Begüm Başaran.

Looking ahead, Hasan and Esma share the same aspirations — to establish their own brand one day, become a worldwide company, and venture into global markets. 

“This project made me feel valued and provided me with a platform to freely express my ideas,” says Esma. “It boosted my self-confidence, allowed me to expand my horizons, and understand that my presence in the industry contributes positively to society. 

Meanwhile, Hasan reflects on how shared dreams can bring people together on the road to success. "Migration teaches us that unity knows no borders. Dreams, when nurtured with hard work, become bridges to a brighter future." 

Empowered with the right tools, Hasan and Esma are starting to turn their dreams into reality. 

Since 2020, IOM’s Enterprise Development Fund has supported 50 entrepreneurs from migrant, refugee and local communities. This is made possible with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).