Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and founder of Chobani Yoghurt, has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish yoghurt pioneer Hamdi Ulukaya has been named one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people for 2017.
“Hamdi Ulukaya puts the xenophobes to shame,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote for Time. “At a time when some accuse immigrants of stealing jobs, the Chobani CEO – a Kurd born in Turkey who moved to the US in 1994 – is creating them, big time.”
Ulukaya is racking up recognition for his business practices. In February, Chobani was named one the ten most innovative companies in 2017 by the American magazine Fast Company.
Not only has Ulukaya hired hundreds of refugees, in April last year, he announced that he was giving his employees a 10% share in the enterprise, making some of the workers millionaires overnight.
“How we built this company matters to me, but how we grow it matters even more. I want you not only to be a part of this growth – I want you to be the driving force of it,” Ulukaya wrote to his employees at the time.
Ulukaya is the son of a Kurdish shepherd. In 2014, he donated $2 million to the Kurdish town of Kobane in Rojava, northern Syria.
The businessman has also founded the Tent Foundation, funding organizations and communities working with refugees and displaced persons around the world.
“Hamdi personifies the American Dream, showing that anyone arriving on US shores with drive and intelligence can make it – and bring others along with him,” Roth stated.
Time magazine’s annual list seeks to name the most influential people in the categories of pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, and icons
Joining Ulukaya this year are Iran’s Quds commander Major General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Syrian Civil Defense group the White Helmets Raed Saleh, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, among a list of politicians, artists, business leaders, and athletes.