Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) (Turkey)September 1, 2017 - August 31, 2019
WDI is collaborating with a consortium led by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) on the Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) Project, funded by the U.S. Government. In addition to CIPE and WDI, consortium members include IDEMA, Union Kitchen and The Stimson Center. The mission of the LIFE Project is to support and encourage entrepreneurship, job creation and cross-cultural engagement in the food sector. The LIFE Project’s entrepreneurship incubation program builds sustainable livelihoods by equipping refugees and members of the host communities with the skills and knowledge they need to build successful businesses. Underlying all LIFE Project activities is gastrodiplomacy – that is, leveraging food as a medium for cross-cultural engagement. Since 2017, the LIFE Project has established two Food Enterprise Centers (based in Istanbul and Mersin, Turkey) where entrepreneurs participate in the entrepreneurship incubation program and have access to shared kitchen space for testing and producing their products.
In July 2019, a WDI team of two staff members and a WDI faculty affiliate traveled to Istanbul and Mersin to run workshops on several topics, including leadership, customer service and social media marketing. While there, the WDI team met with some of the graduates of the program and conducted interviews to assess what elements of the program’s curriculum have been most impactful, as well as what new material could be added to enhance the program. The team also paid visits to the businesses of several program graduates to offer one-on-one business consulting. During the trip, the team attended a business pitch competition in Mersin, with the faculty affiliate serving on the panel of judges and a WDI staff member kicking off the competition with an opening speech. WDI is currently finalizing a project workbook that will be used by all program participants as they proceed through the four-month entrepreneurship incubation program.