Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is İsrafil Kahraman of Viya Citizenship.
How do you spend your weekends?
I start every day of the week, including the weekends, with a visit to my office. Saturdays are a good time to recap, and Sundays are worktime for Arab countries, so we must be active 24/7. I also try to spend quality time with my family, my four kids, and my wife.
What are your top three business goals this year?
The first is to expand my team with people of high quality, with whom we can work for the long term. We depend 100% on quality service provided by our team to serve our international partners in the Turkish CBI market, which requires a lot of effort.
The second is to set up a strong B2B network in the local market, consisting of law firms, accounting and audit firms, property brokers, and more, to promote citizenship programs to Turkish UHNWI. Turkey is one of the largest markets and we aim to carry our service provider model.
The third is to reach a top place in terms of online presence for “Turkish Citizenship” and “Property in Turkey”.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
My biggest business concern is the lack of new developments in İstanbul’s real estate market. The current municipal policy limits them. While this benefits the client in a great way – driving up prices of the property they buy – it also makes it hard for us to promote a larger portfolio.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
I have World Order by Kissinger. It’s a great book for understanding history and analyzing the future from a specific, Western point of view.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
We were advising an investment fund that exclusively targeted Egyptians as investors. Then, the citizenship program emerged in Turkey and all of them asked for citizenship for themselves. Being attorneys, we entered right into it. We then aggressively worked on the matter and became a full-service provider with a high standard of quality.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
Anytime I feel I have achieved a positive impact on my clients’ life, I feel very proud. But, some of my clients do not stop at getting the passport. They do more. One of my clients decided (and has now started) to build a factory that will employ more than 2,000 people in a small Black Sea city. We managed to get a land grant for him of 100.000 square meters, free. That was my proudest moment as a service provider, due to the impact it made for the local economy of that city, almost to ending unemployment there.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
The rising success and popularity of the Vanuatu program. Not because it does not have the elements for success but because it is one of many programs that offer a passport with donations. But the competitive pricing and the great excitement it brought to market helped, I believe. I am excited about that program.
If you could go 10 years back in time, what business decision would you change?
I would put more emphasis on internationalizing my business even earlier. We believe Turkey, and especially İstanbul, will become more and more a global place, and we are betting on this with our focus on foreign direct investment. I would do that earlier, I believe.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
Sam Bayat. He has never-ending energy and determination for achievement. He really loves the job he is doing and does it with perfection. I admire him for these traits and for his friendship, his assistance to us in the investment migration industry since our earliest days, and his setting of an example for our firm to learn and improve from.
If all goes according to plan, what will you being doing five years from now?
If all goes according to plan, I will manage sales offices for a couple of projects in addition to my current business in CBI, and will also promote globally many CBI and RBI programs with wide networks and strong marketing infrastructure.