Energizing His Local Economy Through Small Business - Building Markets

Energizing His Local Economy Through Small Business

by Nawar Maarri
June 26, 2023

Muhammed Nedim Mustafa has long held a love for learning and entrepreneurship. He earned a master’s degree in celestial mechanics at the University of Aleppo before going on to study information systems and teaching at Aleppo University. And in 1997, long before the war, Muhammed started his first business in Syria, focused on education and consulting services. Looking back, he sees how the core of his work – then and now – was helping others learn in different ways everyday. From the beginning, this focus has propelled him forward.

In 2012, Muhammed was displaced from Aleppo and forced to return to his hometown, Jarabulus. There he established the first voluntary school for displaced individuals in northern Syria, where he continued his teaching until he was forced to leave Syria in 2015. He sought refuge in Türkiye, settling in Reyhanlı, a city just over the border and home to other Syrian refugees.

In his first few years in Türkiye, Muhammed worked at several schools for Syrian refugees. Though rewarding, the work was often unstable as the schools were funded by short-term NGOs projects. So when he moved to Gaziantep, he was excited to start a new company; this time in Türkiye. 

Muhammed proudly celebrated the opening of his new business, Ilim Kapıları Company, in 2018. Drawing upon his experience in public education, he decided to transition to a private model which provides education, training services, and consultancy on educational projects. 

The biggest challenges Muhammed has faced as a businessman came in recent years, first with the COVID-19 pandemic and then the February 2023 earthquakes. During the pandemic, they had to suspend operations for over 1.5 years. Thankfully, they were already in touch with Building Markets at the time, a connection which they say played a critical role in their success.

“Building Markets not only provided us with invaluable advice and expertise but also supported us in various ways. They helped us study our company’s tax profile, restructure our financial infrastructure, review our balance sheet, and verify the accuracy of accounting information,” Muhammed shared.

Muhammed and his company also benefited from photography services which support their marketing campaigns, numerous training courses, and networking events organized by Building Markets. The resources and opportunities provided by Building Markets contributed significantly to their growth and development as a business.

“Building Markets also extended a helping hand by offering us a co-working space for our business. This support was particularly significant, given that the region had recently experienced a devastating earthquake in 2023,” Muhammed said.

Something that’s important to Muhammed is the recognition of the talent and skill which people with disabilities possess. He says, “It became evident to me that given the right environment and support, this group can unleash their tremendous potential.” 

He explains how, when his company needed a web designer, they crossed paths with an exceptionally talented and creative young individual who, despite a war injury for which he now uses a wheelchair, is excelling in the field of information engineering. “We were truly inspired by his unwavering commitment and remarkable creativity. Without hesitation, we welcomed him on board as a part-time designer for our company, and he has been an invaluable member of our team for the past five years,” Muhammed shares. When small business leaders like Muhammed are empowered to grow, they offer big opportunities to their communities and energize their local economies.

“We firmly believe that individuals with disabilities bring valuable and positive energy to any workplace. They possess unique capabilities that compensate for certain aspects in which they may face challenges. To address concerns businesses may have about the perceived overwhelming nature of accommodating disabled employees, it’s important to highlight that the necessary arrangements can be implemented once and are often simpler than anticipated. These accommodations can be seen as worthwhile investments that not only create an inclusive environment but also contribute to the overall success of the business,” Muhammed explains. 

Muhammed stresses the importance of his and his staff’s role in helping to raise awareness about the crucial inputs of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Especially considering that the number of people with disabilities has significantly increased due to the crisis and war injuries that have plagued Syria over the past decade. Among them, there are individuals with extensive professional and scientific qualifications.

“I strongly encourage companies to embrace working with individuals with disabilities and provide them with opportunities. They have demonstrated not only their equality but, at times, their superiority to able-bodied individuals. It is the collective responsibility of individuals, organizations, social institutions, and business owners to raise awareness and promote inclusivity,” Muhammed states.

Tags : Success Story

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