In Hatay, a region in southern Türkiye along the Syrian border that suffered severe earthquake damage and more than 20,000 deaths, local business owner Muhammed Muaz Elsekaki has been responding to his community’s urgent needs. The moment he saw the destruction from the earthquake, Muhammed began to think of how he could help. His business, Burgaz Çiçeği Kozmetik, manufactures cleaning and household items, so he loaded his truck with soap, diapers, and other necessities and started delivering them to people whose homes were lost or are now uninhabitable and are now sheltering at sports stadiums and other temporary shelters.
In the wake of this crisis, we’re hearing a lot about responses by international organizations and governments, but what about local businesses? Many businesses in our network have become natural first responders or will be an essential part of recovery. Why is this?
First, given their inventory, their distribution capabilities, and their presence on the ground, local businesses are set up to deliver emergency assistance quickly. They have supply chains in place and are able to navigate the logistics of moving goods quickly in the wake of a crisis.
Second, local businesses are personally invested in long-term recovery. This includes rebuilding infrastructure that was lost or damaged, getting people back to work, and making sure communities have what they need to live healthy lives.
Third, when aid dollars go to local businesses, they make three times the impact. Allowing aid dollars to flow through local businesses brings much-needed relief to those who need it, secures livelihoods, and offers dignity and hope to those whose lives have been impacted.
“Helping my neighbors feels natural to me,” said Muhammed, who came to Türkiye from Syria. Now a Turkish citizen, he is committed to doing what he can to provide relief and rebuild. During a time of uncertainty and crisis, Muhammed and his small business have been a pillar of stability for the local community.
Building Markets has worked with local business owners, like Muhammed, in Türkiye for six years, the majority of whom are Syrian refugees. Half of the businesses in our network are located in areas most affected by the earthquakes, and we are committed to continuing to work alongside them to recover and rebuild. Our primary project in Türkiye is made possible by the generous support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. In addition to this support to local businesses, we have set up an Emergency Relief Fund to be able to respond directly and flexibly to the needs of survivors. You can learn more and donate here.