By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry have joined forces to support and encourage entrepreneurship in the Turkish port city of Mersin, the bank said on Wednesday.
"The partners will work together to strengthen the ability of the business organization to deliver more and better services to private sector companies," the EBRD said in a statement.
The EBRD said it would also focus on providing assistance to refugee-run companies.
The bank said that 140,000 Syrian refugees were officially registered but the true refugee population in the 1.5-million-strong city was estimated to surpass 300,000.
"Increasing cross-border economic ties is proving that refugees need and want to be economically active, employ their skills and contribute to their host country’s well-being," the statement read.
According to the statement, the project will be implemented by Denmark’s largest business organization, the Confederation of Danish Industry, and a Dutch NGO focused on education and entrepreneurship in post-conflict communities, SPARK.
"We at the EBRD are happy to partner with the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help deliver more and better services to local firms and encourage investment -- by Turkish and Syrian entrepreneurs alike – which can create employment and opportunities to the region and its people,” Paolo Monaco, regional head of SME finance and development at the EBRD, said.
Serafettin Asut, head of the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the number companies in the city stood at 20,000, 2,200 of which were created via foreign investment.
"There are 1,200 Syrian-owned companies registered at our Chamber. These companies initiated export operations to new markets in the Middle East and Africa," Asut said.
According to the bank, it has invested €10 billion ($12.43 billion) in various sectors since 2009 in Turkey, which is a top destination for the bank’s financing.
"In 2017 alone, the EBRD invested €1.6 billion [$1.99B] in 51 projects in Turkey. Almost a third of this financing was provided in Turkish lira," the bank said.