Many investment agencies boast they offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for investors, but Istanbul has taken the idea a step further. It has established an investment promotion and facilitation organisation that brings together under one roof representatives from all the agencies that foreign investors would need to deal with when setting up business in Turkey’s commercial capital. 

In June 2017, Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim and governor of Istanbul Vasip Sahin officially opened Invest in Istanbul’s office in the city’s Beyoğlu district. Apart from other investment promotion agencies, the handling of bureaucratic steps accompanied with direct submission of official documents distinguishes this brand new organisation from others”, according to a press release about the office’s creation. 

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Invest in Istanbul has a hybrid structure involving both government and the private sector. Its staff come from the governmental institutions that investors must submit official documents to during when establishing their companies, while partners include local stakeholders and business and trade associations.

Besides promoting Istanbul as an investment destination, Invest in Istanbul facilitates investors’ legal procedures related to establishing business operations, work and resident permit applications, incentive applications, environmental impact assessment processes, and other relevant licences.

Government agencies represented in the office include the Istanbul Development Agency, Directorate of Migration Management, Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Istanbul Tax Department, Provincial Directorate of Social Security Institution, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Licensing & Supervision, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Zoning, Governorship of Istanbul and Istanbul Chamber of Industry. 

“Over the past 15 years, Istanbul’s economy has experienced a rapid structural change. Our economic role has evolved from a service centre into a dynamic urban centre with strong and multi-faceted international connections,” said Mehmet Onur Partal, a senior expert for the Istanbul Development Agency, the coordinating institution of Invest in Istanbul.

“There are more than 500,000 companies operating in Istanbul, which is a very huge entrepreneurship ecosystem. So we gathered all of the stakeholders and asked them ‘what’s the main problem in Istanbul?’ – especially with regards to the process of setting up a business in Istanbul. The common problem was – it’s the same across all of the countries in the world – the process.

“We all come together to deal with these issues in order to help international investors. As far as I know, there is no other investment promotion agency [IPA] like us. Most IPAs only deal with promotion issues. What they do when the investors come to their office is they just accompany them along to other institutions. At the end of the day, we do everything here. So this is the differentiation,” he adds.