Iyad takes his inspiration from his father, a seventy-year-old man who lost his sight when he was only 16. Despite his condition, he pursued his studies and became a history teacher in his village. He encouraged his sons to pursue their studies and work at the same time.
A Father’s Pride
Iyad's journey has not been easy, but his father has been always on his side.
Iyad studied mathematics in Syria while working as a part-time tailor to make his father proud of him. He had dreams but they were shattered when he injured his leg during an air strike and had to stop his studies. To start a new safe life, the young man had to leave for Şanlıurfa in Türkiye. He was suffering from depression, but his father was on his side despite the distance between them.
“You are now making your way on your own,” his father said.
“It is not going to be easy but I know you can do it.”
Iyad decided to begin a tough journey. He started working as a tailor in a factory. The pay was not so bad but he was not satisfied. The factory was using designs that restricted his creativity. When he told his parents, his father advised him to buy his own sewing machine and said:
“I believe in you.”
Following his father’s advice, Iyad was able to save some money for his own sewing machine. He started attracting some customers but not so many of them.
The long hours at the factory were taking up a lot of his time, but he could not leave his job because he needed the money to buy more machines for his business, until one day, a friend of his informed him about the business development centre run by İnsani Gelişme Vakfı (INGEV) in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
Watch Iyad during his work.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KFW-German Development Bank, the centre offers technical and financial support for entrepreneurs from refugee and host communities to open their own businesses.
The support starts with providing different types of trainings such as project and finance management, marketing, and Turkish labour law.
Later, INGEV and DRC select graduates with strong, sustainable business plans to provide them with start-up grants.
The grant he received consisted of four machines dedicated to different purposes in his work, which made a difference in its quality and increased his productivity. It also paved the way to prepare some dresses as samples for his new shop, which was finally opened at the end of 2022.
On the first day of the opening, Iyad was surprised when one customer came and bought four dresses from his shop. It was a good start. Three months later, he became one of the famous tailors in the area.
“I feel happy when I design my own clothes,” he said.
“People stop at the window and admire them.” His products helped his business flourish and attracted people from other areas to buy them.
“The trainings and the grant have made the way for my success shorter.”
Still, the earthquake that hit Türkiye last February disrupted his plans. His shop was not affected, but his business was. Many people cancelled their orders and he had no income to cover his expenses such as shop rent and his family’s needs for a few months. The time was hard, but his father kept encouraging him.
“You can do it,” he said.
“Those circumstances are there to make us stronger.”
Few months later, he was finally able to pay off his debts. The market was stabilizing, but the damage had been done, and many people were still struggling to find work. The young entrepreneur started hiring a woman for embroidery work and some other women for some basic tailoring work.
“I am happy that I am helping those women to generate their own income,” he said.
The earthquake has delayed Iyad’s plans to expand his business, but he is not giving up.
“I still have a long way to go,” he said.
“But I know I am pursuing the right path despite everything because I believe in myself like my father does.”