There are over 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey right now. That’s about the population of Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the United States. And they won’t be going home any time soon, judging by the geopolitical escalation in the region.
Providing those refugees with opportunities is a necessity. That’s where efforts like The Anka Cooperative come in. Anka is a social enterprise that teaches Syrian women refugees transferable skills, providing them work, and enabling cultural integration. They currently work with 250 weavers in two camps in Turkey, training them to make fine carpets.
Today, I supported the Anka Cooperative on Kickstarter. They would like to grow to serve 20,000 refugees by 2020, which is ambitious to say the least. At that kind of scale, they may need to address their impact on their host communities. Even setting aside what economists call the “lump of labor fallacy” (the misperception that there is a fixed amount of work to be portioned out to the workforce), there would surely be some displacement of workers in the Turkish rug industry if there were 20,000 refugees making rugs. Too much of a good thing might then become a problem. But for now, their services are sorely needed.