Relentless: Syrian Refugees Entrepreneurship In Host Countries

The Challenges that Syrian Founders Face and the Impact of
COVID-19 on Businesses in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

By Ahmad Sufian Bayram

Foreword by
Dania Ismail; Board Member / Director of Entrepreneurship Program at Jusoor
Leontine Specker; Regional Programme Director Turkey and the Middle East Region at SPARK

As the world marks one year since the COVID-19 outbreak and the disruption it caused to billions of lives, Syrian populations inside and outside Syria will be commemorating ten years of one of the deadliest conflicts in the modern history of the Middle East. Millions of Syrians have been forced from their homes and now live in both neighboring and distant countries. For refugees, the damage that a decade of war has brought will have only been made worse by an unprecedented global health emergency.

One of the groups made vulnerable in this health crisis are Syrian entrepreneurs and business owners in host countries. They were among those negatively impacted by the aftermath of the pandemic and its repercussions on livelihoods and economies. For many Syrian businesses, it was an economic catastrophe worsening an already-existing social and livelihood crisis.

This research –conducted through 271 semi-structured online interviews and focus groups with Syrian founders, business experts, and NGO representatives –explores the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on Syrian business in four countries: Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. It provides insight into the operational, financial, and even existential consequences of the pandemic on business revenue, income, sales, employment, and coping strategies.

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