With a population of almost 80 million, Turkey has the second-largest economy in the Mediterranean region after Egypt. At different periods of my life I have lived and worked in, and I still continue to engage with, this naturally beautiful country. I have found principled and trusted collaborators there and built precious and lifelong friendships. The values of family, trusted business partnerships, faith, friendship, culture and community are as strong in Turkey as they are anywhere in Europe and the rest of the world.
It is a vast country, with great potential for growth.
First, two bold facts about Turkey: over 70 per cent of its 80 million people live in urban areas; and youth represent 27 per cent of its population.
If Turkey were an extroverted economic power
If only economics and politics could work together to build stable neighbourhoods, rule of law and institutions for all Turkish citizens and neighboring economies – thus making Turkey an extroverted, not an introverted, economic power – the eastern Mediterranean would thrive as Europe’s south-eastern border.
Turkey cannot be ignored. Through a European lens, Turkey is Germany’s largest trade partner (with over $15 billion of exports and over $21 billion of imports). At the same time, Turkey relies on Europe for its export market;
Europe is Turkey’s only stable border.
In preparing this piece, I asked two trusted collaborators their views on Turkey’s growth potential from within the country.
Resilient growth in the face of turbulence
Sinan Ulgen, Founder and Managing Partner of Instabul Ekonomi, an economic analysis and business advisory firm focused on market entry, M&A, says:
‘The Turkish economy has demonstrated a surprising degree of resilience in the face of domestic political turbulence and a worsening geo-strategic environment. Helped by an active government programme to boost domestic demand, quarterly growth has reached 7 per cent.
‘Year-end growth is expected to surpass 5 per cent. This endemic robustness of the Turkish economy demonstrates the existing potential for sustainable growth. The government needs, however, to address problems related to the rule of law and launch a new wave of structural reforms.
‘This will be especially important next year as the stimulus programme will be retrenched and global liquidity will continue to be adversely affected by the monetary tightening of the US Federal Reserve. The challenge will be to concoct the political will necessary for this reform agenda at a time when domestic politics will become gradually more focused on the next cycle of elections currently slated for 2019.’ (See: http://www.istanbul-ekonomi.com/en)
The growing popularity of e-learning
As youth represents the dynamic 27 per cent of the Turkish economy, I asked Zeynep Dereli, Founder and CEO of TINK, Turkey’s first technology education business, to explain how she has invested in affordable education for students from the 5th to 12th grades. Zeynep says that TINK provides students with professional skills as well as ensuring they get a job placement after leaving high school. She says:
‘Students thrive on dynamic learning experiences that are collaborative, relevant and engaging. As e-learning solutions become more popular, schools need to find innovative ways of integrating these technologies into teaching, learning and assessment.’
Through research and analysis among the country’s businesses, Zeynep has found that the most difficult professionals to find in Turkey include skilled traders, engineers and technicians. With this in mind, TINK’s model focuses on academic success (IQ), social skills (EQ) and technology competence (DQ). (See: https://en.teknolojiveinsankoleji.com/)
An entrepreneurial and dynamic private sector
By nature I am an optimist. Turkey is a significant economic power with the potential to impact positively on its people, its neighbourhoods and the world. Its private sector is entrepreneurial and dynamic and it deserves to stay engaged as a producer and consumer in the global economy. As the political timeline to 2019 elections concludes an introvert cycle, the optimist in me says the political tide must turn towards extrovert engagement and strong and stable regional neighbourhoods.
Sectors for growth: sustainable urban infrastructure (waste management, resources, smart grids, mobility); agriculture, food production and processing, manufacturing and processing, paper and packaging, renewable energy; financial inclusion and technology.
MGI Economic Prospect Index: 17th (risk-neutral investors)