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From Turkey to the Netherlands: Ibrahim’s story of resilience, motivation, and entrepreneurship

Updated: Feb 21

On July 16, 2016, and the years that followed, Ibrahim Tatarlar’s life changed forever.


A well-educated, professional accountant, Ibrahim led a successful life in Turkey, with his own accounting firm, a wife who worked as a mathematics teacher, and a baby on the way. However, the coup attempt in 2016 changed everything.


After the Gülen movement was labeled as a terrorist organization, Ibrahim and his wife were arrested because they had mild ties to the movement. Ibrahim was imprisoned for nine months, while his wife stayed free due to her pregnancy. While the courts decided on Ibrahim’s sentence, he was set free. During that time, Ibrahim decided it was time to leave.


A new beginning in the Netherlands

In 2019, Ibrahim and his family fled to Greece and then the Netherlands, which he had visited twice before. “I chose the Netherlands because it is a known ‘free’ country and people are very kind to newcomers,” Ibrahim says. “I’m very happy with my decision. People are very kind to us and they help us and we try to learn the culture and language. We want to work and stand on our own two feet.”


After staying in a refugee camp for 17 months, Ibrahim and his wife were able to obtain a residence permit and find a house. As an owner of his own accounting firm in Turkey and a highly skilled accountant himself, Ibrahim wanted to learn more about the Dutch labor market and culture, in the hopes of working as an accountant in the Dutch market one day – and potentially even starting his own business. He decided to apply to Delitelabs to gain new insights, knowledge, and skills to reach his goals.


“I have an entrepreneurial personality,” he says. “I believe I will start my own business in the future.”


Start building your own business in the ICE Academy program

Even though he has a business background, Ibrahim still gained valuable insights and lessons in the ICE Academy program. During the program, he explored topics like how to start a business, how to create a brand, and how to find your target customers. Ibrahim was also able to improve his English skills since the program is conducted in English with participants from around the world.


One of the highlights of his experience was presenting a new business idea to a jury of experienced professionals from companies such as Unilever. Ibrahim’s business idea was a subscription-based pet product company.


The jury was also impressed with his idea, as well as his ability to answer difficult questions like, “How much capital do you need?”


“It was very inspiring for me,” Ibrahim shares.


Resilience, motivation, and knowledge: A recipe for a successful entrepreneur

Ibrahim is laser-focused on restarting his own business someday, but he has continuously struggled to find opportunities in the Netherlands. It begs the question: How fair is the society we live in, where a highly-educated, experienced entrepreneur is unable to find a job?


Meanwhile, Ibrahim continues to improve his Dutch and adapt to the culture. He remains extremely positive and hopeful for the future, despite the difficulties so far. “I have an entrepreneurial personality,” he says. “I believe I will start my own business in the future.”


Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar pet product business or a successful accounting firm, Ibrahim is clearly highly resilient, motivated, and equipped with the skills and knowledge he needs thanks to the ICE Academy program at Delitelabs.



Are you an aspiring entrepreneur like Ibrahim?
Join the ICE Academy program to get the skills, knowledge, and expertise you need to create your path to building a sustainable livelihood.


Written by Sophie Poulsen


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