Name: Ahmad Kashaam
Business: Date Syrup Production
LIFE Cohort: 4th Cohort, Mersin
Home Country: Syria
Originally from Palmyra, Syria, 28-year-old Ahmad graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Hama. When he came to Turkey, he looked for employment first in Istanbul and then in Mersin, but found few opportunities in either city. Instead he turned his focus toward his dream of starting a new business.
He had heard of the LIFE Project when the Food Enterprise Center opened in Mersin, and applied to join the first cohort after deciding that the food industry was the most resilient sector in the face of crisis.
Ahmad’s application didn’t make it past the interview stage, but this only encouraged him to improve his idea, applying again after working on a stronger business plan. He was admitted to the fourth cohort of the Mersin Entrepreneur Incubator program, and went on to win seed funding for his date syrup production idea in the Business Pitch Competition.
"The [Entrepreneur Incubator] curriculum was very simple and open-minded,” says Ahmad. “It was realistic and [allowed] me to get more knowledge about the Turkish market directly, which made my business planning easier.”
Ahmad began developing his product by making samples and distributing them for marketing and research purposes. He also calculated his supply needs in order to get off the ground - at least two tons of dates - and started researching suppliers who could provide that volume of good quality dates at an affordable rate.
"Before LIFE, I almost lost hope to start my own business because no one was willing to support and invest in me. LIFE gave me motivation and winning the pitch competition is a strong push for me to participate in other investment opportunities. "
What lessons from his experience would Ahmad pass on to other entrepreneurs? "I advise entrepreneurs to start even if they are only starting with a dream, [and] work hard until you make that dream come true. "
Are you interested in Ahmad’s story or see potential in his business as an investor? Contact us to be connected!