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Mutual suspicion is the biggest obstacle to joint start-ups between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots

20 November 2015 / 11:11:25  GRReporter
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Polina Spartyanova
    The buffer zone in Nicosia is one of the few places in Cyprus where Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots feel comfortable to discuss among themselves their goals, differences and ideas. Therefore, the first forum "Mind the Gap" to promote joint start-ups on the island organized on occasion of the Global Entrepreneurship Week took place precisely on the territory between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus, which is controlled by the United Nations. "Youth need to be inspired to take this crisis and turn it into new opportunities for themselves," Michalis Stangos, host of the event and the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Cyprus, appealed to the business environment and youth from both sides of the island.

    Cyprus is the only country in the world where there are more investors than start-up business models. Therefore, the forum discussed start-up ideas and business opportunities for the younger generation on both sides of the buffer zone. Tunç Yalgin is an entrepreneur and investor in several start-up businesses in northern Cyprus and he is currently trying to work with both sides of the island. For him, there are many obstacles to developing a business on one or the other side of the dividing line, as there are still problems with information exchange in northern Cyprus and it is therefore difficult to connect with other entrepreneurs for example or to find information about the market situation in this part.
    "There are many problems with the law, for example, as you should go to the south of the island to create a company in Cyprus. For this purpose, you must have a bank account, and to have a bank account here you must have an address registration in the Republic of Cyprus, as they do not accept addresses from the north," says entrepreneur Tunç Yalgin based on his personal experience. According to him, the business culture in southern Cyprus is better developed than that in the north, as Greek Cypriots are more open to business, more pragmatic and have a lot more knowledge and capital compared to Turkish Cypriots. Currently, the European Union offers Turkish Cypriots a variety of programmes to finance projects in the field of agronomy in this part of the island but not programmes for start-ups.
    The organizers of the forum "Mind the Gap" shared the opinion that the main problem in promoting start-up cooperation between the two communities is due to the fact that there are two types of people on the island - those who are more open to cooperation between the two societies and those who distance themselves from such activities. To enable the two countries to overcome such obstacles to the development of the start-up sector in Cyprus, they had prepared several workshops for beginners and advanced entrepreneurs, bringing together youth in connection with the feasible business proposals in the future. According to Tunç Yalgin, the non-governmental sector in both countries will have to make the next step towards fruitful cooperation so that they start to work together on various campaigns to establish cooperation between different types of businesses.

Tags: Greek CypriotsTurkish CypriotsStart-up companiesNicosiaDivided CyprusBusiness environmentEconomy
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