Cookbook Launch Event with Immigrant Food and the Center for International Private Enterprise

Cookbook Launch Event with Immigrant Food and the Center for International Private Enterprise

On July 9, 2020, Consortium lead The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Immigrant Food hosted a virtual launch event for the LIFE Project cookbook The Cuisine of LIFE: Recipes and Stories of the New Food Entrepreneurs of Turkey. Tea Ivanovic, Communications and Outreach Director at Immigrant Food, and Marie Principe, Program Officer at CIPE, provided opening remarks.

Resilience and Resourcefulness: Entrepreneurial Success in Times of Crisis

Resilience and Resourcefulness: Entrepreneurial Success in Times of Crisis

As the world adapts to social distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, businesses and entrepreneurs have made crucial changes to ensure long-term sustainability. The latest event hosted by the LIFE Project with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), highlighted the challenges and opportunities that small business owners and entrepreneurs experience in times of crisis.

The Second Istanbul Demo Day

At the second Istanbul Demo Day, business leaders and community members joined 24 LIFE Entrepreneurs at the Food Enterprise Center as they shared their products and pitched their businesses to potential investors and customers. Many of the entrepreneurs who participated in the first Istanbul Demo Day returned with new pitches, marketing materials, and branding which they refined based on feedback they had received.

Fifth Istanbul Business Pitch Competition

At the fifth LIFE Project Business Pitch Competition in Istanbul, 32 entrepreneurs from Turkey and Syria pitched their food business plans to a panel of expert judges for a chance to receive seed funding.

Judges included Sevin Turhan, Columnist at Hürriyet Newspaper; Dr. Gökçen Özbek, Training Manager, IDEMA; Yakup Dabak, Founder, Coffeemania; Bilal Khalaf, Owner of Al Mukhtar Restaurants; and Muhamad Nuor Almoualem, owner of Almoualem Restaurant and Bouz Aljedy Restaurants.

The winning pitches came from Nedal, a Syrian entrepreneur opening “Cookibook,” a space where students can work and studies while enjoying cookies and drinks; Salwa, a Syrian entrepreneur working to scale her dairy production business “Grandpa’s Dairies”; Özgü, a Turkish entrepreneur developing a zero-waste produce eCommerce business “OO_Veggie”; and Remden, who is capitalizing on the farm-to-table trend in Turkey to establish a community fruit and vegetable garden.

Fourth Istanbul Business Pitch Competition

Fourth Istanbul Business Pitch Competition

The fourth cohort of LIFE Entrepreneurs in Istanbul included 29 food entrepreneurs from four countries. Each cohort culminates in the Business Pitch Competition, in which graduates have the opportunity to share their food business ideas with a panel of industry experts for a chance to receive seed funding to start and scale their businesses.

First Mersin Business Pitch Competition

First Mersin Business Pitch Competition

In 2019, the LIFE Project expanded our entrepreneurship incubation program to Mersin, a port city in southern Turkey with a thriving food industry. At the Business Pitch Competition held for the first cohort, 23 entrepreneurs from Turkey, Syria and other communities competed to receive seed funding to start and scale their food businesses in Mersin.

South by Southwest 2019 Panel: "Gastro-Diplomacy"

LIFE Project Advisory Council member Mitchell Davis moderated a panel with Jabber Al-Bihani (Komeeda), Johanna Mendelson Forman (Stimson Center), and Marie Principe (Center for International Private Enterprise) during South by Southwest 2019. The speakers each brought unique experience working with food, entrepreneurship and diplomacy. They highlighted the current work being done to use food as a bridge between communities, and create economic opportunities for all.

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Second Global Conference on Food, Heritage and Community Presentation

Livelihoods Innovation Through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE): Fostering Community and Sustainable Solutions to the Refugee Crisis in Turkey

Filiz Hosukoglu, LIFE Project Advisory Council member and cookbook editor, and Osman Cakiroglu from Consortium lead CIPE discussed how food can be used in the context of refugee crises as a means of sustainable livelihoods and to promote greater social integration. Through a presentation of the Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) Project, their presentation examined how food entrepreneurship, gastrodiplomacy, the use of food to support social good, and food business incubation help create opportunities for refugees and host communities in Turkey.

The 2018 LIFE Project Iftar

Food entrepreneurs from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere hosted more than 60 guests from the diplomatic community and food industry for a very special fast-breaking meal during the month of Ramadan.

The event featured a curated discussion on the role of food in bridging communities and creating livelihoods, moderated by LIFE Project adviser Christina Bache, and featuring LIFE Consortium Partner Johanna Mendelson Forman, and LIFE Project advisers Nasser Jaber, a Palestinian-American food entrepreneur and co-founder of Komeeda; and Shirley Kaston, co-founder of the Kök Projekt.

Breaking Bread and Building Livelihoods

An introduction to the LIFE Project Gastrodiplomacy Event series, Members of the inaugural cohort shared a rich lunch buffet featuring dishes from Turkey, Syria, and Yemen. 

Friends of the LIFE Project in Istanbul had the chance to come by the FEC and meet some of the Members and hear the stories of their journeys to becoming food entrepreneurs in Turkey.