Last updated: 9 October, 2014

Kurdish super entrepreneur gives $2 million to Syria and Iraq refugees

The founder of US yogurt brand Chobani said Thursday he has given $2 million for Iraqi and Syrian refugees massed along Turkey's borders.

The money from Chobani creator Hamdi Ulukaya will go to items that are urgently needed as winter approaches, such as tents, blankets and food, a statement said.

Ulukaya, a Turkish Kurd, arrived in America in 1994 to study English and went on to found a yogurt-making empire.

“I am close to what is happening, it is personal for me,” Ulukaya told AFP.

“I can’t sit and watch these kids and women walking through mountains to flee wars.”

Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq are seeking shelter on the Turkish border.

Ulukaya purchased a small feta-cheese factory in 2002 and the business quickly grew. In 2005, he bought a dairy food plant that was owned by food giant Kraft.

He went on to create and market Chobani, a protein-rich Greek-style yogurt. According to the Chobani website, sales passed $1 billion last year.

The donation will be given to the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations’ refugee agency.

“We are going to make sure (every) penny reaches the people,” Ulukaya said.