Another Side to the Story: Syrian Refugees Have Invested over $300 Million in the Turkish Economy

August 02, 2017

We are inundated by bad news about Syria and the heartbreaking stories of refugees fleeing this war-torn country. But there is another side to the story. A groundbreaking study by the NGO Building Markets indicates that there are over 10,000 Syrian-owned businesses in Turkey. Since 2011, Syrians have invested nearly $334 million into 6,033 new companies. Another 2,000 companies are likely to be established by the end of 2017, with an additional $90 million of Syrian capital.

Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey are creating jobs in wholesale and retail, as well as in the manufacturing sector. On average, Syrian-owned firms employ 9.4 people, drawing largely from the informal sector. Over half of the businesses interviewed by the team from Building Markets said that they would be hiring additional workers in the next 12 months. Some entrepreneurs said they would be starting additional businesses, many are committed to remaining in Turkey even after the end of the war, with plans to expand to Syria as well.

The Building Markets report provides some of the best evidence yet that refugees make an enormous contribution to their host country. The authors of the report argue that the Turkish economy will benefit even more if the government eases the regulatory burdens on Syrian businesses and enables Syrian entrepreneurs to continue investing in Turkey. Actions taken to reduce language barriers and provide training in marketing and communications can help businesses to thrive.  

The work done by Building Markets shows us that recognizing the value of refugees will have a significant payoff in their host countries and beyond.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.

Image credit for social media/web: Social media image includes a cover by Building Markets