Exclusive | People in NW Syria turn to “profitable” applications, digital currency and pyramid marketing online
In light of the lack of job opportunities, astronomically inflated prices, and the growing population due to mass exodus, residents in NW Syria turned to search for job opportunities that enable them to use the internet to earn a living. Such businesses managed to attract many residents in north-west Syria region, especially the youth.
A displaced young man called Hassan from Sahl Al-Ghab area in Hama countryside and lives now in a refugee camp near Salqin town in northern Idlib, spends several hours every day on an application on the internet through which he makes a monthly profit of at least 100 USD.
In his testimony to SOHR, Hassan said “for nearly a year and a half I have used this application on which I have to collect coins and sell them later. These coins arrive by sending presents by the administrators of chat groups, and these presents are represented by symbols like flowers, cars, stars…etc. The application also grants some extra coins for free when the user gets his account promoted. I can later exchange these coins for real banknotes in several shops in Idlib, such as telecommunication stores which buy the coins of this application from users. The monthly profit varying from 100 to 150 USD, on the basis of my efforts and the hours I spend on this application. This profit is relatively ‘good’, especially there is no other job opportunities. Some people use more than one mobile phone, so that they can multiple their profit.”
A mother from Idlib called Sahar or “Um Mohammed” works in the pyramid marketing for a foreign company for three years. Sahar told SOHR “I do not need to search for a job opportunity in Idlib anymore, I have become professional in my job, and the profit I get is enough for me and my family. I have a membership in the company, which promotes makeup products and dietary supplements, and I also have a private code. Through the internet, I give my private code to a client, so that the client can get a specific product in any of the company’s branches in his country with a discount, while I get a fixed rate of the product’s net profit. Recently, I managed to make my son working with me and we get more than 500 USD a month. Our task is just to persuade clients to buy the company’s products and to persuade people to work for the company as marketers under our memberships. Accordingly, we can also get a ratio of the profit of these marketers. This process or business model is called ‘pyramid scheme’.”
Working on the internet in north-west Syria region takes various forms, including working on profit websites, multi-level and pyramid marketing and digital currency circulation.
Another young man known as Wa’el who have been displaced from Jabal Shashaboo in the western countryside of Hama to Kafr Takharim town in north-western Idlib, works in digital currency circulation. The young man said to SOHR “the digital currency has been widely prevalent and there are offices and branches dealing in this kind of money in more than 100 countries around the world, including Jordan. The working team buys a bundle of digital currency and keeps it in a special electronic portfolio, then we market this currency and persuade others to deal in it, so that profit would grow, while the value of the currency would increase every month. Recently, I do not make much money because of the novelty of this currency. Many of my friends make good funds. Anyway, I am forced to continue my work on the internet as there are no available job opportunities.”
Working on the internet is growing in north Syria, despite the risks people may face, including business scam by individuals, companies and websites. However, it is still a “good” income for many poor civilians, especially displaced families living in refugee camps.