Navigating Change: Radwan Mouaket's Entrepreneurial Spirit - Building Markets

Navigating Change: Radwan Mouaket’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

by Nawar Maarri
April 26, 2024

Radwan Mouaket is a mechanical engineer who graduated from the University of Aleppo in 2006. He began his career in Syria working in metal construction, but when war broke out in 2011, he came to Türkiye where he had to restart his career. He started working building cement factories and four years later, established Urban Research Center, specializing in Syrian city studies. Despite challenges in Türkiye’s business landscape, including language barriers and legal unfamiliarity, Radwan expanded Urban Research Center into market research and NGO consultations, eventually venturing into project implementation in Syria and Türkiye.

In 2019, the company joined the Building Markets network. Since then, they’ve utilized various services, including tender applications and training sessions covering access to finance, digital presence enhancement, and mentorship. “Discovering Building Markets proved pivotal for us — a vital link connecting SMEs to valuable opportunities, bolstering societal infrastructure.” says Radwan. “(Building Markets) enabled us to work on enhancing our digital presence through consultancy sessions, effectively showcasing our services, expertise, and track record.”

Radwan emphasizes the significance of Building Markets Tender directory, praising its user-friendly interface and comprehensive coverage, enabling access to previously inaccessible opportunities. He also highlights the team’s proactive sharing of tenders through WhatsApp groups, streamlining the application process and broadening their reach.

Our partnership with Building Markets has directly resulted in securing contracts worth $9 million.”

 

Beginning with just 15 employees, Urban Research Center has experienced remarkable growth, now boasting a workforce of 75 individuals. What’s particularly noteworthy is that all the employees are Syrian refugees residing in Türkiye — ”Our team serves as a source of strength and enrichment,” Radwan says. “Many of the Syrian employees possess fluency in multiple languages, contributing to a vibrant and multicultural work environment. Furthermore, their diverse backgrounds and previous experiences bring a wealth of expertise to the table, spanning various fields such as engineering, economics, accounting, and more.”

Radwan reflected on the community’s resilience during earthquakes, noting how people supported each other. Despite initial disruptions, the team adapted and capitalized on reconstruction opportunities, especially in prefabricated housing. However, challenges arose, such as increased area rents and market shifts due to inflation and currency depreciation.

The rise in interest rates had a significant impact on the market dynamics, as many companies opted to allocate funds to banks rather than investing in on-ground projects. This shift in financial priorities exacerbated the challenges faced by small businesses, which struggled to secure the necessary financing to sustain operations and facilitate recovery efforts.

Radwan underscores the critical importance of access to finance for small businesses, emphasizing its role in enabling their continuity and aiding in the recovery process. “Due to the earthquake, supply chains were disrupted, particularly for sandwich panels to Syria,” he explains. “We had to pivot and source materials from Iraq as an alternative.” Additionally, the departure of some companies from Gaziantep necessitated exploring new supplier relationships for operational continuity.

“Drawing from my own experiences, patience is key,” Radwan advises fellow entrepreneurs. “Despite facing challenges, including periods of unprofitability and issues with INGOs during tender implementations, we persevered.”

 

Our work is made possible through a generous gift of the United States.

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