Building a Future: Abir Muhammed's Journey as a Refugee SME Owner in a Male-Dominated Industry - Building Markets

Building a Future: Abir Muhammed’s Journey as a Refugee SME Owner in a Male-Dominated Industry

by Nawar Maarri
June 26, 2024

Abir Muhammed’s life took a profound turn when her husband tragically lost his life during the Syrian war in 2016. Left to care for their two children on her own, Abir faced the daunting challenge of navigating life as a widowed mother. In 2018, Abir made the bold decision to seek a fresh start in Türkiye, settling in Mersin.

Despite a degree in Education and Psychology and background as a teacher, when Abir came to Türkiye finding employment in her trained field proved challenging. She took the best job she could find, working as a secretary for sewing workshops in Mersin’s free trade zone. Over three years, Abir gained valuable experience, fostered key relationships, acquainted herself with numerous merchants, and found the confidence to start her own business in the field. While her initial savings weren’t sufficient to start a sewing workshop, she established an ironing and packaging workshop, catering to Turkish sewing businesses.

Navigating the male-dominated industry as a refugee woman presented initial hurdles. “I encountered instances where I was offered lower prices due to my Syrian background,” Abir said. However, through determination and proven competence, she earned respect, negotiated fair pricing, and gained confidence in her abilities. s her ironing and packaging business, Taiba, flourished, Abir has expanded her workshop, creating employment opportunities for fellow Syrians. Today, her workshop employs five ironing workers and eight female employees, all contributing to her vision of empowering refugee women.

Through Building Markets, Abir has accessed invaluable advisory services tailored to her business needs. These sessions included legal consultations and organizing her relationship with the financial advisor. Additionally, she has received hands-on guidance in digital marketing, including website creation and client acquisition strategies, which led to connections with new clients, resulting in successful contract signings and tangible business growth. Abir has also successfully applied for two grants, which will significantly help her expand her business.

“Two years ago, we were striving to meet our basic needs, and now we’re exploring ways to further enrich and develop my children’s lives,” Abir said. Her journey has inspired her to provide opportunities for vocational school students at her workshop, aiming to equip them with valuable skills and contribute positively to the community.

 

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