This project aimed at licensing and formalizing “informal” Syrian businesses in Gaziantep. It also strengthened awareness among Syrian refugee business owners on the Turkish business environment and legal regulations. The project ensured Syrian businesses’ sustainability and development, and improved Syrian refugee integration in the Turkish host community, easing tensions and problems deriving from their participation in the informal economy.
Lead Authority or Organization: Syrian Economic Forum
Area: Gaziantep, Turkey
Beneficiaries: Syrian informal business owners residing in Gaziantep
Timeline: November 2016 – February 2017
Human Resources: 9 permanent staff
Funding Amount: €650,000
Sources of Funding: German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Gaziantep is hosting approximately 325,000 Syrian refugees, with 291,000 living outside refugee camps under temporary protection. Most of them work to secure their livelihoods, and some of them have created their own businesses.
According to a survey conducted by the Syrian Economic Forum—which included more than 1,170 trade points—the vast majority of Syrian-owned businesses in Gaziantep are unregistered and operate in the informal market. Syrian business owners lack funding and procedural knowledge to formalize. For example, the cost of registering a small shop in Gaziantep is more than $3,000, which is beyond the capital availability of many owners. Furthermore, difficulties in understanding regulations and procedures due to language barriers means these businesses face many obstacles to their growth. Their informal nature is also reflected in a higher vulnerability in the Turkish society and legal system.
The Rukhsati project formalized unregistered Syrian businesses in Gaziantep through:
At the end of the project, Syrian Economic Forum’s Monitoring and Evaluation Department conducted two surveys on a random sample of beneficiaries. The two surveys included samples of 50 and 122 beneficiaries. These surveys found that:
Challenges and Risks
Key Ingredients of Success
Cooperation with Turkish authorities (represented by the Municipality of Gaziantep, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Gaziantep Crafts Association), was the main ingredient of success.
For the first time, a knowledge framework for licensing and registration procedures of Syrian investments in Turkey was developed, consistent with governmental laws and procedures.
This post is part of a series of case-studies published in the CMI 2018 Refugees' Compendium and featuring host communities experiences in hosting refugees with relation to local economic development. The information in-here was provided by focal points in the relevant institutions, NGOs, local governments, etc