Syrian entrepreneurs want to stay in Turkey, new study says

Syrian entrepreneurs want to stay in Turkey, new study says
3 min read
27 August, 2019
Almost three quarters of Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey want to stay in the country even after the war in Syria ends.
More than 10,000 businesses have been created by Syrians in Turkey [AFP]
The majority of Syrian entrepreneurs operating businesses in Turkey want to stay in the country even when the war is over, a new study says.

The study, published on Monday by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), comes at a time when Syrian refugees in the country are facing an increasingly uncertain future.

Turkey last month vowed to expel Syrians without the proper registration from Istanbul, the country's largest city, after 20 August.

The deadline for Syrians without Istanbul-registered temporary protection IDs to leave the city was extended late that day to 30 October.

More than 3.6 million Syrians live in Turkey, making it the world's largest host of Syrian refugees.

The community has established more than 10,000 businesses in Turkey over the past eight years, the study by TEPAV said.

Rather than providing a legal refugee status, Syrians in Turkey are afforded "temporary protection", a status that give them access to public education and healthcare, and the right to establish businesses and have work permits.

The majority of Syrian entrepreneurs, however, do not see their stay in Turkey as "temporary", the study said.

Out of the entrepreneurs interviewed by TEPAV, 72 percent said they wanted to stay in Turkey even if the war in Syria were to end.

Tensions have risen in Turkey in recent months over the continued presence of Syrian refugees in the country.

According to recent studies, a majority of Turkish citizens across the political spectrum want Syrians to return to their country.

Analysts say Turkey's ongoing economic crisis is perhaps the most important driver behind increasing intolerance and racism against Syrian refugees.

According to a 2017 poll by Istanbul Bilgi University's Centre for Migration Research, some 71 percent of Turks believe Syrians are taking jobs away from them.

The reality, of course, is more complex.

Analysts say the majority of Syrians struggle to gain work permits and are instead exploited in the informal workforce.

Syrians like those surveyed by TEPAV who have been able to not only access the legal workforce but also establish businesses of their own represent a minority of the community.

Those Syrian-owned and run businesses have become employers for Syrians, the study said.

At least seven percent of Syrian refugees are employed by Syrian entrepreneurs, according to TEPAV. 

The companies do not only employ Syrians. Businesses in Turkey face a legal requirement to employ a number of Turkish citizens, and 40 percent of those employed by the Syrian-run companies are non-Syrians.

The survey also suggests that Syrian-owned businesses, more than half of which are export-oriented, have helped to drive foreign trade. However, TEPAV's results may be skewed as the foundation only interviewed businesses operated in Turkey's border provinces.

Three-quarters of Syrians who had set up businesses in Turkey said they had previously owned businesses before fleeing to the country.