As part of a new initiative to assist Turkish entrepreneurs, Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish-American founder of Chobani yogurt, will award up to $5 million over five years to young Turkish entrepreneurs who are either running an existing startup or hoping to turn an idea into a profitable venture, Forbes reports.
Selected from more than four hundred applicants, the startups to be supported by the Hamdi Ulukaya Initiative (HUG) range from a beachwear company that imports handmade textile products from Turkey to a mobile platform that aims to provide free education to children with autism. Having completed a "boot camp" in Istanbul, the six startup founders and twenty-four entrepreneurs will participate in workshops at Chobani facilities, attend professional development seminars at New York University, and visit accelerator and innovation centers in New York and Boston.
Ulukaya came to the United States in 1994 to study business. In 2005, he bought an old Kraft Foods yogurt plant with a loan from the Small Business Administration and started Chobani, which generated $1.5 billion in revenues in 2016. A philanthropist and refugee rights activist, Ulukaya has hired hundreds of refugees at the company's factories in Idaho and New York, signed the Giving Pledge in 2015, and donated 10 percent of the company to its two thousand full-time employees in 2016.