Nurettin Karayegen: A student and avid photographer who turns to entrepreneurship to build ties with both communities
Nurettin Karayegen is part of a group of young Turkish and Greek Cypriot students who participates in an entrepreneurship programme entitled ‘Famagusta Students Together’, which students from both communities to discuss business ideas. He is one of the 26 students that came together to create sustainable, quality relations between participants, trainers and organizations involved.
Since February, participants have been meeting virtually and have materialised a set of activities and trainings on entrepreneurship and business idea development. Having formed intercommunal teams, the students worked with their mentors to develop innovative business ideas addressing a specific social problem. At the beginning of the month, the teams presented their ideas to a jury and competed for best business idea, best promotion and best teamwork.
Nurettin, a high school student and avid photographer who lives in Nicosia, was intrigued by the idea of joining the programme and decided to participate with the vision of meeting new people from both sides of the divide. “I gained friendships and I also learnt how to properly start a new business; I think that this will be very useful, especially when I become an adult,” he said.
To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme had to be redesigned to virtual meetings. However, this did not halt the initiative, which aimed at providing a platform for young people to express themselves and bring the communities together.
“This programme was one of the good things that I experienced during these difficult times, and trust me, not a lot of good things have been happening lately,” affirms Nurettin.
The initiative Famagusta Students Together & the Entrepreneurship Contest was spearheaded by Irene Antoniou and Yiannis Constantinou and organized with the support of two local organisations, CyprusINNO, a digital platform offering Cypriot entrepreneurs and problem-solvers the opportunity to connect with like-minded innovators and GIGEM, a youth development centre, social space, and education centre in north Cyprus focused on social inclusion and economic empowerment of young people, the program was led by school teachers, individual entrepreneurs and trainers.
“The program was such a fun, entertaining and educational month,” said Nurettin. “I believe programs like this really help build peace because it’s solid proof that we can do such great things together,” he added.
Talking about what he gained from the programme, Nurettin asserted: “I personally enjoyed it a lot because even though we were all from two different communities, I realized that we share more than we think. I really enjoyed the friendships I created.”
The ‘Famagusta Students Together’, which is supported by UNFICYP, will continue to provide other activities and competitions in the aim of offering opportunities to more students for long-term engagement and connections.