Expanding Economic Opportunities for Refugees

March 4, 2018

Decent Work and Economic Growth
Middle East
No Poverty
North Africa
Reduced inequalities

Innovest’s Michelle McMahon has been invited by the UNDP to participate in its Stakeholder Consultation on ‘Expanding Economic Opportunities for Refugees and Host Communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey’ on 5-6 March 2018, in Istanbul. Innovest’s partner First Syrian Exporters Group will join the consultation to discuss it’s efforts, working with refugees, in the ready-made garments industry in South-East Turkey.

The First Syrian Exporters Group (FSEG) is a consortium of ten Syrian owned and operated businesses based in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras. These businesses were originally from Aleppo, Syria, but due to conflict they were forced to relocate to Turkey in 2011 and are now operating as formally registered Turkish businesses. Kahramanmaras is a historic centre for Turkish textiles, and the FSEG consortium has reestablished operations in the fabric production, knitwear and ready-made garments sectors.

FSEG has an annual production capacity of around 6 million items of clothing and generates approximately €20 million euros in exports, targeting markets in the EU, North America and the Arabian Gulf. Starting with a handful of employees in 2011, the FSEG now employs more than 500 staff of which over 70% are Syrian refugees.

Building on its successes, FSEG is seeking to expand its production capacity. This will help create jobs for Syrian refugees, and have a significant impact on the local Turkish economy – the cotton production and transportation sectors – through increased demand.

In addition, FSEG intends to pilot an innovative employee profit share model – Fair Share – which aims to empower disadvantaged Syrian refugees by giving them a profit share from the sales of particular clothing they make.

FSEG has identified opportunities to partner with multinational apparel companies with existing supply chains in Turkey that are willing to become ‘refugee inclusive’.