Turkey: business birth along the Bosphorus

A recent article in the Financial Times alluded to the ‘careful navigation’ that international commentators need to have when discussing the Bosphorus nation due to its conflicting geographic, economic and cultural conditions, which can catch observers out. Particularly now, when Turkey is caught between increasing authoritarianism and confrontation on the one hand, and business growth and the forging of new social consciousness on the other, it is easy for outsiders to fail to understand the complexities at play in this newly crowned ‘MINT’ country.

Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

One such intricacy has been highlighted by our recent study "Rebuilding the Global Economy" with the discovery that Turkey has registered weak performance, posting a 28% year-on-year decrease in business births to 2013. This is not surprising given the uncertainties arising from recent political and civil unrest in the country. 

However, this is not the whole story. As expressed by a popular Forbes article written by Osman Can Ozcanli (who left Silicon Valley to move home to Turkey and start his tech business), there are many reasons that make Turkey a good place to start a business. Weak competition, strong consumer spending trends, high retail prices, low operating costs, a plethora of local manufacturers and un-penetrated markets, are all essential to successful business birth. Indeed, the recent IFC and World Bank ‘Doing Business 2014’ report placed Turkey two places higher at 69, than last year’s 71.

Turkey’s family businesses make up 90% of Turkey’s economy, have seen huge growth with sales increasing 81% in 2012, and surpassing the global average by nearly 20%. It is this kind of growth that is leading to an injection of new management skills and a cry for greater business education, particularly in languages training, for the country’s growing youth population.

In my role, I try and understand the dynamics at play in all our countries and pan-regionally, as this knowledge is key to understanding our clients’ needs. There is no doubt that Turkey – nestled in between Mainland Europe and Asia – is a very exciting country with huge future promise both for domestic companies as they expand at home and abroad, and foreign investors as they eye the opportunities of the Bosphorus.



Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer