1,5 million people living in Germany are originally from Turkey (2015). The classic cliche: Turkish entrepeneurship in Germany means opening a doner kebab, a Turkish supermarket or a small restaurant. But Turkish business person in Germany are active in all different economic sectors. A KMPG study already revealed in 2011, that around five years later, 120.000 Turkish people living in Germany are self-employed and are generating 720.000 new jobs. Some perfect examples of very successful turks in Germany…
Ismet Koyun – Kobil
Ismet Koyun came to Germany in 1978 to study computer science at FH Worms. While being a student, he started buying and reselling computers. In 1986, Koyun finally founded Kobil in the student dorm Worms-Herrnsheim. The name Kobil is a mix of Ko (his last name) and bil (bilgisayar = computer in Turkish). In the 80s and early 90s, Kobil computers were characterized as highly secure with an additional hard disc encryption. In 2009, Ismet Koyun received the European Seal of Excellence from the European Multimedia Forum. Kobil still makes the largest shares of sales with a variety of smart card readers or USB/ Bluetooth tokens and one-time password generators. However, the sales of his software solutions are steadily increasing. More and more people are using their smartphones as a bank counter or travel agency. Thats why Koyun invested around five million Euro in a secure smartphone app.
Mustafa Baklan – Baktat
Mustafa Baklan came to Germany in 1972. He opened his first supermarket in 1987 in Mannheim and noticed that a Turkish food market is missing and furthermore, that the imported products from Turkey didn’t correspond with the EU-norms. He finally started food production and wholesale in Turkey. Today, the company Baktat is supplying Turkish supermarkets and non-turkish supermarket chains in whole Europe plus around 50 countries worldwide with around 1200 different products from Turkey. The head office is still in Mannheim, where his father was working as a guest worker when Mustafa Baklan was 16. The former labourer from the wholesale store is now the managing partner of Baktat. His recipe for success? “Turkish flexibility and German discipline”.
Vural Öger – Öger Tours GmbH
Born in Istabul and raised in Ankara, Vural Öger came to Germany at age 18 after finishing school in Turkey. He studied at TU Berlin in 1961 and found a gap in the market after graduating as an engineer: a lot of Turkish guest workers in Germany wanted to visit their families in Turkey. Öger successfully started organising charter flights in Hamburg, expanded to other German cities and finally opened branches in Berlin, Hannover and Dusseldorf. In 1992, Vural Öger founded Öger Tours, which he sold to Thomas Cook in 2010.
Vural Öger was from 2004 to 2009 a member of the European Parliament for the German party SPD. He is also famous for his tv appearance in the German version of the British TV show Dragon’s Den.
Kemal Şahin – Sahinler Group/Sahinler Holding
Kemal Şahin came to Germany in 1972 to study engineering at HTW Aachen. The son of a Turkish farmer finished his studies, but didn’t receive a residence permit. With the threat of being deported, Kemal Sahin started selling gifts in a shop in Aachen and later began importing textiles – especially shirts from Turkey. In 1983, only one year after he graduated from university, Şahin’s company Santex Moden GmbH received a turnover of 1 million German mark. Two years later, his textile company reached a revenue of 10 million German mark. The Sahinler group/ Sahinler holding is the biggest Turkish employer in Germany.
In 1997, Kemal Şahin was Entrepeneur of the Year and also received the title Germany’s most successful Turkish entrepeneur.
Cevat Yerli – Crytek
Cevat Yerli was born in Coburg, Germany, to Turkish guest workers. With his older brothers Faruk and Avni, Cevat Yerli began developing computer games in the 90s. In 1997, the three brothers founded the company Crytek. The big success came in 2004 with their game Far Cry, which got sold more than 2,6 million times. The three brothers shifted to Frankfurt in 2006 and released their second video game in 2007 called Crysis (Crysis 2 and Cyris 3 followed later on). Crytek has currenly around 300 employees in the headquarter and 300 more in Kiev, Budapest, Notthingham, Sofia and Seoul. The Yerli-brothers are one of the most important entrepeneurial persons in the gaming industry and famous for their hard action productions.
Remzi Kaplan – Doner Kebab
Remzi Kaplan was born and raised in Yozgat, Turkey. His parents were guest workers in Germany and were rejoined by their son in the 1970s, when Kaplan was 11 years old. According to him, he hated school and only has a leaving certificate. His goal was always: go into a business for oneself. Kaplan married at age 17 and started working in a meat factory, but finally went into his own business in 1979. He opened a small fruit and vegetable stand in Wedding. After the reunification of Germany, Kaplan discovered a gap in the market and opened the first doner kebab in east Berlin. After some fights with his meat supplier, Kaplan started producing his own doner meat. Since 2007, he is the biggest doner supplier in the European Union. The German like to call him Kebab-King. His three children, two daugthers and one son are all working in his company and his youngest daugther has already taken over the reponsibility a few years ago.