Why e-Residency is popular with Turkish entrepreneurs

E-Residency can enable anyone to establish an EU company online, but Turkish entrepreneurs are among the most enthusiastic.

More than 1,000 people in Turkey have applied for e-Residency so far and collectively have already established over 150 new EU companies through the programme.

This makes Turkey one of the top countries for e-Residency, despite the fact that there has been little direct efforts to promote the programme there from the e-Residency team.

Arnaud Castaignet and Estonian Ambassador Marin Mottus speak with Turkish journalists at Kolktif House Istanbul

E-Residency was established three years ago so that anyone in the world could apply for a government-backed digital identity from the Republic of Estonia and then gain online access to the country’s services and EU business environment.

Crucially, this means that e-residents can establish an EU company with EU banking entirely online with minimal cost and hassle, then manage it from anywhere in the world. This year, the programme is expanding further to include a new community platform that will also help e-residents grow their companies.

Approximately 40,000 people from around 150 countries have already signed up for e-Residency, but why is the programme particularly popular in Turkey?

Digging deeper, the e-Residency team began looking not just into the numbers but also into what was quickly becoming a burgeoning community of entrepreneurial e-Residents based across Turkey.

Of course, in retrospect this makes perfect sense. Looking at the history of Turkey and Europe at large, it is one of collaboration and trade between the two regions. In fact, when looking at the largest export markets for Turkey, 4 of the top 6 markets are in the EU and collectively make up over 27% of the total exports from the country and when looking at foreign imports to the region, a large amount comes from the EU as well — with Germany accounting for over 10% of the total value of imports to Turkey.

In addition, entrepreneurs and small businesses in Turkey were affected considerably when PayPal became unavailable in the country in 2016. For entrepreneurs like Arzu Altinay, an entrepreneur who ran walking tours in Istanbul, the situation was incredibly dire.

That’s when entrepreneurs in Turkey increasingly began to recognise that e-Residency not only provided access to the EU business environment, but also access to a wider choice of e-services — including EU business banking from companies like Holvi and payment providers like PayPal.

For entrepreneurs like Arzu, the e-Residency program meant that not only could they get back to running their businesses, but they also could grow far more easily than they could have before. Today, Arzu’s business is now not only in Istanbul but operates across Europe in over 10 cities.

You can read more about Arzu here:

In many ways, Turkish entrepreneurs are recognising the value of e-Residency in the same way as Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Like Turkey, Ukraine has close business connections to the EU and entrepreneurs there also have considerable difficulty access vital online business tools such as PayPal. After e-Residency began providing greater support to entrepreneurs on the ground in Ukraine about how to use the programme, the number of new EU companies established there rose sharply. Ukrainians are now responsible for establishing the most companies through the e-Residency programme.

E-Residency is for all world citizens and the programme is working hard to ensure as many people around the world as possible can benefit.

But sometimes additional support on the ground can be really valuable so — after talking with existing e-residents in Turkey and hearing their stories — the e-Residency team has decided to offer more support in Turkey.

What we’re doing:

We’ve begun to engage more in depth with the Turkish market by interview e-resident business owners and begin developing more solutions that fit their needs, as well as Turkey-specific advice and information.

In April, we opened applications for an e-Residency Turkey Country Manager based in Istanbul to help us manage local operations, as well as conduct a series of events with local entrepreneurs to introduce e-Residency and the opportunities that it provides, as well as answer their questions.

Arnauld Castaignet from the e-Residency team speaking at IDEA Kadikoy.

We have also been working with a number of partners to support activities in Turkey, from e-Residency service providers like 1Office to other Estonian government agencies like Startup Estonia — which is actively looking for entrepreneurs in Turkey to join their ongoing startup program based in Tallinn.

At the end of the day, the e-Residency team is nothing short of ecstatic at the outpouring of support from the local community of entrepreneurs in Turkey and the opportunity to help so many incredible founders, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs in their respective missions.

If you are a Turkish entrepreneur interested in learning more about how e-Residency can benefit you or are ready to start your company, visit https://e-resident.gov.ee/turkey/