On World Humanitarian Day 2023, Building Markets celebrates the inspiring entrepreneurs who help humanity thrive through the power of small business.
This year, small businesses played an important role in Türkiye’s relief efforts after the February 2023 earthquakes. From the first few days, small business owners like Muhammed Muaz Elsekaki, owner of Burgaz Çiçeği Kozmetik, jumped in to help however they could. Muhammed loaded his own truck with soap, diapers, and other essentials he had in stock, personally delivering aid to those displaced by the earthquake.
Another entrepreneur, Mohamad Aljadou, explains how quick action by small business owners local to a disaster can have a big impact. Like Muhammed, Mohamad also drove supplies to deliver aid to survivors. “Organizations need to prioritize speed when it comes to emergency relief efforts, especially at the local level, and local businesses are well poised to respond quickly and to local needs,” he says.
Restaurant owners in Türkiye like Lobna Helli, originally from Syria, immediately began providing food relief, using her restaurant’s kitchen to prepare thousands of meals in just the first month. A group of local restaurants later came together to deliver 7,500 iftar meals to their neighbors during Ramadan.
As the need for support extended through the spring and summer, small businesses continued to step up to help. Partnerships with World Central Kitchen and GiveDirectly enabled small businesses in Building Markets’ network to continue providing essential food relief and cash relief to keep businesses afloat, averting loss of jobs and resources to their communities.
Over time, news cycles shift and many organizations move on to support the next disaster; but small businesses remain in their communities. They continue to offer jobs, empower their neighbors, and strengthen their communities.
Today, more than six months later, small businesses are still a big part of the recovery process in Türkiye. Long-term recovery entails the reconstruction of schools, apartment buildings, and entire neighborhoods. Small businesses in Building Markets’ network are already applying their newly honed skills to win contracts with INGOs and other organizations supporting recovery efforts.
Just a few months after the earthquakes, more than 20 businesses in our network had already bid on contracts totaling $4 million to provide support to construction projects and supply blankets and other necessities, demonstrating the power and resilience of small businesses.
Ahmad Shaheer Kudsi is one such entrepreneur going after big contracts which support earthquake recovery, growing his business while restoring his community and creating new jobs in the process. His company has recently supplied hygiene kits, food, and latrines as part of the ongoing earthquake response in Türkiye.
Remember Mohamad Aljadou, who urged us to think of local businesses as the logical choice for carrying out emergency relief efforts? His company, Al Rawad, has since been hard at work applying for tender opportunities which center around earthquake recovery. These opportunities, published by Building Markets, have led to big contracts that have allowed Mohamad and other entrepreneurs like Samer Hejazi to hire new employees – often refugees, most in need of opportunities – to carry out the work.
Small businesses support inclusive economies and represent hope for new beginnings. Join Building Markets and help small businesses support humanitarian relief efforts in their communities. These small business owners are humanitarians; you can be humanitarians too.