Naeema and Hassan share a profound affinity for entrepreneurship, family, and their homeland Syria, but they have both faced challenging circumstances along the way to the life they are building together today. In 2015, faced with the tumultuous circumstances of war, Naeema, a determined student, decided to leave Syria for Türkiye. She ventured into fashion entrepreneurship, but faced a series of bureaucratic challenges stemming from her Syrian refugee status. At the same time, Hassan’s studies in business administration were also disrupted by conflict, leading him to seek refuge in Türkiye. Homesickness and language barriers made the early days challenging, yet Hassan was able to learn Turkish, volunteer with the UN, and learn new skills.
Naeema and Hassan met and married in 2018. They still grappled with the challenges of adapting to a new environment, all while carrying a deep homesickness for Syria, but with hope for the future they created a new small manufacturing venture together in 2020. They named their business after their daughter, Wateen.
Initiating our business during the COVID-19 pandemic was an adventurous challenge. Many believe they’ll turn profits within the first months, but the reality differs. The first year focuses on establishing the business, often with minimal income,” Naeema said.
In 2021, Naeema and Hassan participated in a small business seminar with Building Markets, which kickstarted their exporting success as they saw an uptick in with organic export requests. Today their business extends to Iraq, Egypt, the Netherlands, Syria, and Libya, with all their products reaching beyond Turkish borders.
Starting with Building Markets made a real impact for us and opened doors to networking with other companies, transforming Building Markets into a trusted partner. Now, we proactively reach out to potential clients, and the response is fantastic,” said Hassan.
Reflecting on the February 2023 earthquake, Hassan shared that the initial panic led to his family’s temporary relocation to Konya, away from the earthquake-prone zone. Running a business in an earthquake-prone area also presented considerable challenges.The seismic event had far-reaching effects on contractual agreements, with an Algerian client retracting from a significant deal due to concerns about Gaziantep’s seismic activity.
Despite visible damages in buildings, Hassan is relieved that their workplace escaped destruction. However, workforce challenges emerged, and some employees left for Istanbul, necessitating him to find suitable replacements. Post-earthquake, elevated rents, employee departures, and client hesitancy are things that have continued to pose hurdles, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive effort to rebuild trust relationships and reestablish the business on solid ground.
Recently their journey took an unexpected turn when a client reached out and said, “I found you through the internet,” despite Hassan and Naeema not having a website. The client showed them their profile on the Building Markets business directory.
Our profile on Building Markets business directory appeared as the top result in machine searches,” Hassan recounts.
This unforeseen connection resulted in a visit, a customized machine order, and a significant $5,000 contract. Building Markets is proud to play a role in supporting Naeema and Hassan’s success with Wateen!