How 3 Turkish Women Entrepreneurs Succeeded in the UK

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New Arab Dating: Behiye, Yesim and Ozlem – three self-made Turkish businesswomen who found entrepreneurial solutions in the UK. They share their successes and what they did to make it work in their favor.

Turkish businessmen’s ECAA demands broke a records in 2021 with nearly 20,000 applicants ahead of the Brexit deadline of the Ankara deal.

Signed in 1963 between Turkey and the EU, the Ankara Agreement is a treaty whereby Turkish nationals can apply for a Turkish Businessman’s Visa which allows them to either establish a new business in the UK , or continue to help run a business established in the UK. UK.

“In a world designed for men, where only 19.7% of board seats are held by women, and where in 2015 it was found that for 7 female CEOs in the UK’s largest companies United there were 2 men called John”

The new Arabic sat down with three Turkish businesswomen to find out how these self-made women used the Turkish Businessman Visa to succeed in the UK.

To quote the late soul legend, Aretha Franklin while dueting with Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox: “These sisters are doing it for themselves.”

Here’s what Behiye, Yesim, and Ozlem did to make it work in their favor:

Behiye Teymur, CEO of agricultural and trading company Arnas Agro

Behiye Teymur, CEO of Arnas Agro Agricultural and Trade Company, which mainly sells food, took a big risk moving to the UK and settling down. When she took the first step, Covid had just struck.

Behiye Teymur is the CEO of agricultural and trading company Arnas Agro

The UK was at the height of lockdown and most of its meetings were hosted via Zoom or phone. Despite the initial difficulties, things seem to be going well.

“Now I am in my third year, everything is going well, our food products are on the shelves in many areas of London, we have opened our Amazon UK market and it is progressing very well. I think it is an achievement itself,” she said. The New Arab.

Behiye decided to move to the UK in 2019. It was just before Brexit when it had been difficult to break into the market, as any non-EU olive oil would be hit with a 30% duty. . “With the removal of that from the agreements after Brexit, the UK has become a virgin market with great potential for us.”

Although she took the risk of paying when she expanded her business to the UK, the move was not without difficulties. Recently, many Turkish business visa holders have had problems renewing their visas, leaving them trapped in the UK for fear of not being able to return.

“I like to integrate into the world, I believe I have found a sufficient social environment for this in London”

“After my one-year residence permit expired, the process of extending my visa took 6-7 months. This was when Covid was at its peak. I was stuck in England and if I left the country I couldn’t come back,” she explains.

“During this time, I prayed every day that no one in my family would get COVID-19. God forbid, how could I visit them if there was an illness? »

After months of talking to Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands and other government ministers, Behiye said officials had been helpful. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them. Even getting replies to my letters was a relief for me.

However, aside from the more expensive lifestyle and visa renewal issues, Behiye is enjoying life in London. “Being in the UK makes me feel like a citizen of the world. London is a very cosmopolitan place, where I find the opportunity to meet and socialize with people of different nationalities,” she says.

“It makes me a more tolerant and compassionate person. I like to integrate into the world, I believe I have found a sufficient social environment for that in London.

Yesim Engin, business consultant and mentor

Yesim Engin was a successful businesswoman for over 20 years before moving to the UK. After running a successful business in the United Arab Emirates, she decided to bring her expertise to Britain and offer her insight and expertise.

For Yesim, operating in a world that favors men is achievement enough in itself.

“After running a successful business in the United Arab Emirates, she decided to bring her expertise to Britain and offer her insight and expertise”

“I think the definition of ‘success’ changes from person to person. For me, surviving in a world of men is already a success,” she explains.

“To be able to be flexible and continue to work as a mother and carer, to move to countries where you literally know someone, to raise children without support, away from your parents and loved ones… all of this is success when you look from the outside.”

Yesim, as a business coach and mentor, measures his success by the success of his clients. If she can change lives and walk hand in hand with her clients to success, then she considers it a job well done.

She started her business in 2012, after realizing she had a passion for people. “I love connecting people and helping everyone find better opportunities. After noticing that creating a positive impact on people is my passion, I decided to be a coach/mentor and was trained by the best academies to be certified as a professional coach.

“For me, surviving in a world of men is already a success”

The UK wasn’t necessarily Yesim’s first choice, but over time she became more optimistic in moving her business from Dubai to England.

“Our children were already in British education, it’s close to their home country and I have experience with Brits, so I said, why not?”

She also wanted her children to get a good education and thinks Britain will be good for them. “The UK is a promising country for the future, a great hub for my coaching business and it offers a modest but stable life similar to what we are looking for.”

Ozlem Bacak, CEO of Luviland Ltd.

Ozlem was attracted by the move of businesses to the UK just before Brexit. As Britain tries to navigate its way through a post-Brexit world, Ozlem says Turkey is in an advantageous position as opportunities previously closed off by the European Union have started to open up.

“I chose England and set up a company there called Luviland Limited,” she says. Luviland is a London-based industrial advisory service with partners in the Gulf countries and Turkey.

“I want to be a bridge between two countries”

Although COVID-19 is hitting the global economy hard, his company still managed to facilitate $5.2 million in combined trade from his clients.

Ozlem is determined to share its success with others

“I want to be a bridge between two countries. Many manufacturers still do not know how to enter the UK market today, and many UK companies have not been able to find the manufacturers they can cooperate with properly and for a long time,” she explains. “Here, with the right correspondence, I make sure that companies contact each other here in England and Turkey without wasting time and money.”

Despite London’s fast pace, Ozlem’s life in England taught her to be patient: “England tries to teach me to have patience and to move slowly but surely. I just finished my first year and I’m trying to adapt.

“Ozlem was the first of her family to embark on the path she has taken and the first young woman in her social circle to venture into the world alone”

However, she loves her new home and appreciates the cosmopolitan and multicultural city.

“People of all nationalities, races and cultures live together. As I am Turkish, I have never come across any negative approach in particular.

Ozlem was the first in her family to embark on the path she has taken. She graduated from the Department of Food Process Engineering at Pamukkale University and was the first young woman from her social circle to venture into the world alone.

After living in Egypt for a year, she returned to Istanbul to pursue a career in foreign trade. Armed with five languages ​​(English, Arabic, Russian, Bulgarian and Turkish), she travels the world.

However, Ozlem is determined to share her success with others and runs a program called ‘Future Destination Africa’, which aims to improve job opportunities for African students, and is something Ozlem sees as the one of his greatest successes.

“The objective of the project was to train young people who would be a bridge between the two countries so that African students doing their undergraduate or doctoral studies in Turkey would do internships with relevant Turkish manufacturers according to their departments”, she explains.

Students would then become partners or representatives of their assignment companies upon their return to their home country. The project took off and the government showed interest in getting involved.

“Over time, the project spread like a wave and became a government-supported project of one of the official state institutions, so that more young students and graduates were reached,” she says.

In a world designed for men, where only 19.7% of conference room seats are occupied by women, and where in 2015 it was found that for every seven female CEOs in the UK’s biggest companies, there were two men called John.

However, these driven and determined women have taken a step ahead.

It may be a man’s world, but, to quote the late great James Brown, it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.

Amy Addison-Dunne is a freelance digital journalist with interests in the Middle East and British politics. She has written for the Daily Mirror, Morning Star.

Follow her on Twitter: @redamylou

Marwa Koçak is a journalist and translator who focuses on politics and human rights in the Middle East. She speaks Arabic, English and Turkish. She has written for Middle East Eye, Al-Jazeera.

For this year’s International Women’s Day and throughout March, The New Arab will amplify and celebrate the voices of women across the MENA region and beyond. Click here to read more stories from the special series:

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