On account of the business forum organized by Turkey’s new rising star -- the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), which has over 10,000 companies as well as many business organizations and regional federations under its umbrella -- we spent the last four days in the new capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. Over 180 Turkish and 700 Kazakh businessmen attended the Turkish-Kazakh Business Forum, consolidating the strong connection based on cultural and historical ties through a total of $500 million in business deals. The conference was held with the support of the Association of Kazakhstan Entrepreneurs (KAZKA) and cooperation from the Kazakhstan Chamber of Industry and Commerce (ATAMAKEN).
TUSKON was founded only two years ago and is therefore a very young organization. However, the great successes it has achieved in such a short time make it seem as if these were the products of great experience, perfect infrastructure and years of preparation. We can already predict that the great successes of TUSKON, which organizes well-attended business summits and outdoes itself with each one, will be subject to serious study in the near future as an international business and networking model.
It is impossible to view the accomplished organization of TUSKON and their success in Astana separately from the international education and dialogue efforts initiated by Turkish businessmen and volunteers 20 years ago. We should also note that the expansion strategy on which these successes are built is also in harmony with Turkey’s policy of opening up to the world in recent times.
TUSKON was a pioneer among the on-site launchers of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s yearly strategies that have had a different name each year -- the Africa Year, the Latin America Year, the Pacific Year and the Eurasia Year. Making it possible for thousands of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from Turkey to meet their foreign counterparts through the business bridges it has staged with Africa, the Pacific and Eurasia, TUSKON is becoming an important engine in helping Turkey to meet its continually higher export targets.
A Turkish businessman participating in the Astana forum said: “Up until a couple of years ago, I was afraid to even move my business from Bayburt to İstanbul. I just couldn’t find the courage; however, in the last three years, I’ve been to 10 different countries with the help of TUSKON and have developed business relations with businessmen from all of those countries.” TUSKON’s help in introducing Turkish SMEs to the world is a great success in itself as well as for the Turkish business world.
In addition, in regarding TUSKON’s success, I cannot help but direct your attention to the Turkish schools operating for the last 15 years in the countries that formed the foundations of this success. The benevolent and selfless Anatolian businessmen, who have provided all sorts of support for the opening of these schools and the continuity of their operations without expecting anything in return, are now laying the foundations of great business partnerships in the fertile environment developed by those schools. In laying down those foundations, they are joined by the students and graduates of the hundreds of Turkish schools that have spread over a vast geography. Some of these graduates today accompany them as young and assertive businessmen, while others sit at the table as translators since all of them can speak Turkish as well as their native languages.
Undoubtedly, the confidence built up over time by the Turkish education volunteers, who have won the hearts of people through the exemplary educational support they have provided in over 100 different countries including Kazakhstan, plays a major role in this success. Local businessmen, who open their hearts to any sort of initiative that they see relates to these schools and education volunteers, are craving to strengthen the commercial and economic cooperation between their country and Turkey with concrete connections. The answer given to my question “What is the Kazakh image of Turks?” by a young Kazakh university graduate gives a good idea of the impact of these schools. “Kazakhs divide the Turks who come to their country into two groups. They unconditionally trust the first group consisting of the ‘School Turks.’ However, I can’t possibly say the same thing about the second group of Turks with whom they only have had negative experiences.”
What will allow TUSKON to continue its success and help Turkey meet its $100 billion export goal for this year and the $120 billion goal set for next year? For the most part it will be that huge platform of confidence formed by these “School Turks” all over the world that have selflessly given of their time and knowledge.
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