IOM Backs Syrian Small Business Development in Turkey

Turkey - Some 300 Syrians are starting up small businesses in Turkey with the help of a unique IOM in-kind grants project. The In-Kind Grants (IKG) programme was launched this month to distribute professional toolkits to Syrian refugees. 

“This project gives Syrians the opportunity to provide for their families and reduce dependency on humanitarian assistance,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission. 

“One of the most common themes among the refugees I meet is that they want the opportunity to earn a decent living and build a future again. This is one of the major reasons why we see so many refugees making the dangerous journey across the sea to Europe,” he added. 

The new programme provides a steady income for Syrian refugees living in Turkey, increasing their resilience and decreasing their dependence on humanitarian aid. The toolkits will be distributed to 300 Syrian heads of household and are projected to benefit at least 1,500 Syrians in Turkey.

“In times of crisis, the idea of heads of household may extend well beyond the nuclear family. As we are distributing these toolkits, we have found that recipients intend to support far more than his or her immediate family. So these toolkits have the potential to support far more people than originally intended,” said IOM Project Officer Jamil Awan.

Through March, IOM will distribute 28 different IKG toolkits, each tailored specifically to fit the needs of a particular profession. The two most commonly distributed toolkits are for tailors and welders. Programme staff discussed previous skills background, household size and monthly income with potential beneficiaries. 

After initial interviews, IOM worked with beneficiaries to create a viable business development plan targeting the market in Turkey’s Sanliurfa, Hatay and Gaziantep provinces.  The 300 people considered to have the most viable business plans were selected to participate in the initial pilot project.

Fifty-year-old Wahda received a tailoring toolkit. Since her husband’s death ten years ago, she has been the sole provider for her five children and worked as a professional tailor in Syria.

“For the last few months, I had been working in a sewing workshop here in Turkey, but the income was barely enough for the rent, let alone for food for all of us,” says Wahda.  “Now, I have my own sewing machine and everything I need to work from home.  In the same amount of time, I can probably make four times what I could before.”

The protracted crisis in Syria has left Turkey hosting over 2.9 million Syrians. In January 2016, Turkey passed the Regulation on Work Permit of International Protection Applicants and International Protection Status Holders, giving millions of Syrians living under temporary protection in Turkey the possibility to access the labour market.

This legislative change led to the subsequent shift to resilience-building programmes and IOM’s April 2016 launch of its Support to the Livelihoods and Resilience of Refugees pilot livelihoods project, funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

For further information, please contact Abby Dwommoh at IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 312 454 3048, Email: