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Participant series- Story of Emrullah Kaya

Updated: Mar 30

Emrullah is 26 year old lawyer from Turkey. He describes himself “ambitious, hard-working, and fast learner”.


His journey

As an asylum seeker, Emrullah came to Netherlands 15 months ago and just received his status and settled in Amsterdm. When we asked him why the Netherlands, he mentioned that when he became a refugee he decided to choose a country that would not identify him as a refugee. He wanted “a humanistic country and people who would not judge based on his story but accept him for who he is”.

Located at Gilze AZC, in an isolated camp outside of city boundaries, Emrullah did not lose any time. “I enrolled to several courses to learn language and help with my integration. I don't look at it as a waste of time. I developed myself.” Initially as he describes, Emrullah met with different universities to see if he can continue his education as a lawyer. Eventually he has received conditional confirmation from Maastricht, Tilburg and Rotterdam but could not study because he did not have residency permit yet.


His Program experience

When he learned about the ICE Academy Program offered by DELITELABS and Ben & Jerry’s, he thought “why not?!” Emrullah’s curiously brought him more than he expected. As he puts himself “The program surprised me. I thought I am going to learn how to make an ice cream there but it was more than that, being an entrepreneur which has opened a new door to the new world to me”. At ICE Academy, during the 15-week course, Emrullah worked on his business idea and slowly developed it into a concept. “Starting a new life in another country provides you with a perspective that allows you to compare things to your background or experience in your home country. This is how you learn or understand life here…I compare everything...economy, education, roads, forests, trees, and one of them was driving the car through the traffic”.

While driving he realized that there are no warning systems for colorblind people at the stop light and with the help of his trainers and mentors, he worked on the concept to further develop it. Although he had no intention of becoming a businessman initially, during the course Emrullah felt very empowered. “With small preparation we had presentations in front of the class. First time it was really hard. I had to handle my language barrier. The second one was about the business idea, customer segmentation and etc. We had a really good class, system and trainers and I did not have any difficulty to do that”. In order to educate himself further on business development, in addition to classes at ICE Academy, Emrullah also watched online videos, interviews, read more articles that improved his language skills. “Sessions are very interactive. Because you can’t hide yourself. You have to talk and also push yourself to find ideas. You are asked true questions that guides you”.

Apart from workshops, he also got impressed by the richness of Dutch business life through real examples like attending the ICE Academy training at Unilever’s Rotterdam office and seeing more dynamic start-up scene at Amsterdam Capital Week. He had a chance to network with financial advisors, industry leaders, investors and learn in more depth what the business world looks like. In his own words, “It impressed me how Dutch business environment is so vibrant and so lively”.


His Mantra

Although the course has finished, Emrullah has no intention of stopping. He thinks, “It is a great country, millions of options. Which one should I choose? It’s a big question to ask ourselves. My question was, do you know yourself good to answer this question? “

When we asked Emrullah what would he advice to his fellows, he said: “I made huge effort to do different courses. Not just language courses. I learned about the language, culture, economic system, life in here by doing courses. in my opinion you have to be busy to catch up. It requires a lot of effort; they need to be open to spend their time to

learning. My way was spending time in libraries, spending all my money to transport for attending courses and choosing wisely what do I spend the money they give you”

He also added: “At DELITELABS, you learn a lot about yourself. Who are you and what do you want to do for yourself. These are the questions you don’t ask in your own country”


Emrullah Kaya

Founder of C-Lights

Participated at ICE Academy 2019 (to learn more about ICE Academy, go here)


#emrullahkaya #iceacademy #participantstory

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