"Once a refugee gets a job, that’s the moment they stop being a refugee."
HAMDI ULUKAYA, FOUNDER OF TENT
Hamdi Ulukaya was raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey. After moving to the United States, he launched Chobani in 2007 with the mission and vision of making good-quality food more accessible. Five years after selling the first cup of yogurt, Chobani was a billion-dollar brand, and today is the #1 selling yogurt brand in the U.S. The company has since expanded to an innovative modern food portfolio, adding dairy and plant-based creamers, oat milk, coffee and probiotic drinks.
As a leader in the food manufacturing industry, Ulukaya built Chobani on the foundation that it would do well by doing good. In 2020-2021 alone, the company donated 10.5 million products to fight food insecurity across America, and advocated for policies that work toward ending hunger for 17 million American children.
Ulukaya is well-known for his employee-first policies, including instituting innovative profit-sharing and paid parental leave programs for Chobani’s 2,000-plus employees, and implementing competitive hourly wage increases well above the federal rate. He has also become a leading voice in the movement to hire refugees, having discovered through his own experience hiring them that “the minute a refugee gets a job is the minute they stop being a refugee.”
That inspired him to start the Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2016, a nonprofit that mobilizes the business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees all over the world. Tent’s 250 members include Amazon, H&M, adidas, Hilton, L’Oréal, and Pfizer. Ulukaya also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to help bring an end to the refugee crisis.
For those efforts, Ulukaya was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award, among other recognitions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also named him as a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. He has received the Oslo Business for Peace Award and George H.W Bush Points of Light Award, is a Global Citizen Prize winner, and was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work on the refugee crisis and his innovative approach to business.