Geylani Şahin Impex, The Netherlands
Wholesale trade of food, vegetables and fruit (import and export)
In 1990, three sisters of Turkish origin, Mereyem, Havva, and Serife Şahin opened a retail shop selling vegetables, meat, and other food products. At the end of the nineties, they decided to open a vegetable wholesale business alongside the shop. ‘We wanted to stand on our own feet and be free agents’, says Serife. They learned the tricks of the trade in the shop. Serife states: ‘You start out by cleaning the shop and serving customers. If you have never cleaned the shop or served customers, and are not aware of retail prices, you will never succeed in wholesale trade.’ Mereyem said: ‘Hands-on experience is very important. Anything can be studied from books, but life is not a book.’
They used the profits of the shop to rent a warehouse and invested in a bigger truck, a fork lift truck and office furniture. In order to obtain an auction number at the Greenery vegetable auction, they went to Rabobank, which provided a credit facility on the condition that Mama Cash provide a loan surety for 20,000 Dutch guilders (9,500 euros).
The sisters sold products through a commissioner at the auction, while they sold what was left over through their own shop. ‘Trade is all about taking risks’, says Serife. ‘At first, when people called, they used to ask for my father or the boss, and before settling their bills their eyes would roam the room to find a man. Gradually, customers found out that we only employ women. People sometimes say that we are my father’s three sons.’
Mama Cash stood surety for Geylani Şahin Import/Export in 2001.