Syrian-owned Businesses Draw Foreign Investment and Create Jobs in Turkey: The Story of Wolves Interactive
In 2018, more than 70 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide with Turkey maintaining the top spot as largest country host with 3.7 million Syrians. This comes with enormous strains on a host economy’s market and resources – but also presents a unique opportunity as refugees bring with them skills, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and a desire for a better life. Harnessing these characteristics and providing pathways for refugees to unleash their talents can be a win-win by offsetting the cost of a crisis, attracting new investment, and creating much needed jobs.
Case in point – meet Mohammed Dayoub, an entrepreneur from Syria who now resides in Turkey. Dayoub recognized the vast potential of the mobile gaming industry and wanted to create a product that would be accessed by users in the region and around the world. He had high hopes and ambition that his idea would meet unmet market demand, and that building a successful business would benefit his local community.
“Gaming has become absolutely central to the global entertainment industry in a way that hasn’t been seen before,” Dayoub remarked. Mobile gaming constitutes the largest segment of the $152.1 billion global games market, and continuing to expand year by year. In late 2016 Dayoub’s company Wolves Interactive released their very first app, which went viral in its first six months and has since been downloaded over 27 million times and accessed by over a hundred thousand users daily.
When asked about Wolves’ success, their Chief Marketing Officer Marawan Hassan, quickly replied, “As a mobile gaming company, we really value user experiences. We know if we give our customers a unique, memorable gaming experience, they will keep coming back to play our games.” Growth is critical to a small business’ long-term survival and competitiveness. Along with developing more games and adding more talent to their team, Wolves sought to implement more aggressive marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition. To put these plans into motion Wolves Interactive needed to attract investors.
They began by short-listing investors and exploring their networks through family and friends, but after some time these strategies failed to bring tangible results. That was when they were referred to Building Markets by a fellow Syrian-owned business that was already part of the organization’s network.
After attending a Building Markets event, Wolves Interactive was invited to participate in individualized mentoring sessions, where it received expert consultations and support for improving their business plan, marketing materials, and pitch. This included engaging in mock meetings to prepare for conversations with potential investors. With support in strengthening their case, Wolves Interactive’s search for investment did not last long and the company was offered USD $250,000 from a Jordanian investor.
Prior to accepting, Wolves received further support through the legal guidance of Building Markets partner INGEV. As a result, Wolves finalized the investment offer and are now able to pursue their business plan, which includes the development of new software, increasing their marketing reach, expanding their team from 5 to 15, and establishing a new, second office in an area known for being a technological hub.
Dayoub and his company Wolves Interactive remind us what so many migrants before him have – that when given the opportunity, they have the ability to make extraordinary contributions to their host countries. Everyone may not be an entrepreneur like Dayoub – they may be a consumer, a worker, or an investor. But ensuring there are formal opportunities for refugees and migrants to participate in an economy provides a sustainable path forward that can benefit all.