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Cablegate: Leading Entrepreneurs Participate in Istanbul

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIT #0468/01 3630551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH(CCY ADX03D1D1 MSI1496 532A)
P 290551Z DEC 09 ZDS
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9407
INFO RHMFIUU/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000468

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED SENSITIVE CAPTION)

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

S/P - GREG BEHRMAN, S/SRMC KAREN CHANDLER,
AND R - SEHREEN NOOR-ALI).

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINT ETRD PHUM PREL TU
SUBJECT: LEADING ENTREPRENEURS PARTICIPATE IN ISTANBUL
ROUNDTABLE

REF: SECSTATE 112468

1. (U) Summary. A Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit
Roundtable was hosted in Istanbul by Consul General Wiener on
December 21, bringing together a group of successful Turkish
entrepreneurs to discuss shared experiences and lessons
learned, and to discuss the potential for new partnerships at
home and abroad. The interlocutors were upbeat about the
climate for creative business ventures in Turkey, and
welcomed the possibility of future trade missions from the
United States where the emphasis would be on entrepreneurism
rather than specific industrial sectors. All were aware of
the upcoming Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit (reftel),
and viewed it as a potential bridge for business partnership
between Turkey and the United States. End summary.

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2. (U) The group unanimously held that the environment for
entrepreneurship in Turkey is much better now than in the
past, and this improvement is largely a function of better
funding, accumulated experience and the Internet. One
benefit of this improvement is that successful expatriate
Turks are coming back home, partially reversing the brain
drain that has hurt so many emerging markets. All of the
Roundtable participants were aware of the 2010 Presidential
Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, and several seemed
interested in the possibility that they might be among those
chosen to participate.

3. (U) Ebru Cerezci of Hiref, a high end clothing and
accessories company, stated that good NGO,s
(non-governmental organizations) are vital to the support of
entrepreneurs: "a good NGO should fight for you." Cerezci
offered KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey)
as an example of an NGO that actively provides mentoring and
funding to women starting out in business. She also
mentioned ENDEAVOR, a U.S. based organization that promotes
entrepreneurism in emerging markets, as an example of a
"capitalist mentor." ENDEAVOR links up small and midsize
businesses with seasoned entrepreneurs to receive advice and
contacts, with the aim of growing companies and employment.
Fatih Isbecer, the CEO of Pozitron, one of Turkey's leading
wireless communications companies, cited TUBITAK (The
Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) as
an occasional source of funding and management for business
related research in Turkey. Although TUBITAK requires
documentation, the preparation of this documentation, Isbecer
notes, is not onerous. Cerezci added that TOBB (The Union of
Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey) is also starting
to "get" the entrepreneur,s mentality.


4. (U) Kerim Taner of Alara, one of the world,s leading
exporters of cherries and figs, stated that an entrepreneur
must first get a crucial idea, then grow the idea and then
create a brand. All of the participants agreed that
successful entrepreneurs have certain shared characteristics:
they are risk-loving, self-confident and sociable.

5. (SBU) Bulent Celebi, the CEO of Air Ties, a leader in
high speed internet access, said that Turkey, unlike many
countries in the Middle East, is market oriented. Pozitron's
Isbecer added that in many parts of the Middle East, such as
Morocco, most of the investment capital is imported, not
domestic. The participants agreed that Turkey, a country not
unused to crises and turmoil, adapts well and flexibly to
changing conditions. By definition, creativity is essential
to entrepreneurship, and the Turkish business community has
always been creative. Networking takes place not only within
Turkey, but overseas. On this note, there was strong
enthusiasm for the idea of inviting to Turkey U.S. trade
missions with an emphasis on new business ventures and risk
capital formation, vice the more traditional sectoral
orientation of such missions. Such missions could include
the public and private sectors, NGO,s and academics, and
would probably entail USG interagency involvement.

6. (SBU) Turkey,s bureaucracy was a recurring subject of
discussion. Celebi said that he opposes government support
to the business community, largely because the "support"
usually entails red tape and obstruction. "The Government
doesn,t trust anyone," the former California businessman
noted, and it frequently sets up mechanisms that hinder
business. Pozitron's Isbecer added that the government
should reduce burdensome bureaucracy because, frequently, "a
good idea gets destroyed."


7. (U) Nevzat Aydin, the General Manager of Yemek Sepeti,
Turkey's first and leading food order and home/office
delivery Web site, stated that more venture capital and
private equity are needed in Turkey. Alara CEO Taner added
that Turkey needs better investment banking, which could
bring more U.S. equity to Turkey. He noted that Alara,s
2006 merger with Belgian conglomerate Univeg enabled the
company to lower its costs through cheaper borrowing, an
improved capital structure and better risk management.
Celebi expressed the concern that corporate capital
structures in Turkey are not well developed, specifically for
minority shareholders. Preferred stock is not well regulated
and structured, he noted, and minority and subordinate
shareholders do not always fare well.

8. (U) One of the Roundtable participants noted that only
4-7 percent of Turkish entrepreneurs are women, far below the
European Union (EU) level. Air Ties CEO Celebi offered that
it is hard for a woman to get her foot through the door in
Turkey, but once in, she actually has a better chance of
succeeding than in the United States. He also noted that
women in Turkey do well in academia, finance and the
judiciary. The trick, Celebi contended, will be to find a
way for more women to gain access to the labor market, with
better and more attainable education a key: (Note: In 2008,
according to the Prime Ministry's General Directorate of
Women's Status, 20 percent of women in Turkey are illiterate,
and roughly four percent have university degrees. However,
43 percent of the students currently enrolled in universities
are women. End note).

9. (SBU) In discussing at the Roundtable the Presidential
Entrepreneurship Summit, we described it as intended for
participants from Muslim-majority countries (MMCs). Alluding
to Turkish sensitivities about being categorized as a
"Muslim" country, the Consul General explained to the
Roundtable guests that the term "Muslim" within the context
of the Presidential Summit is meant in a broad cultural
sense, and that at least 150 participants from a wide range
of countries will attend the Summit. Turkish participants in
the Summit will be viewed first and foremost as
businesspeople, leaders and role models.
WIENER

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