Samed Agirbas is an author, entrepreneur and advisor. Born in 1994 in Istanbul, he is a graduate of Architecture and Urban Planning, and studied in business at Mississippi State University.

Since the age of 15, he has actively participated in various Turkish and international NGOs, associations, foundations, and platforms as a founder, chairman, and member of youth activities.

As an entrepreneur, educator, and advisor with a deep understanding of urban development, zero-waste initiatives, and youth empowerment, Samed brings a unique perspective to the table. 

In 2011, he established the High School Entrepreneurship Club concept and signed a protocol with the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education and various public institutions. Within the scope of the pilot scheme initiated in Istanbul, an Entrepreneurship Club was founded in every high school in Istanbul, and more than a thousand events were organized within a year.

Following that, the project’s success attracted the attention of the Ministry of National Education. The Ministry sent a circular to all the high schools across Turkey to establish Entrepreneurship Clubs. Today, there are more than a thousand Entrepreneurship Clubs in Turkey.

“My journey began with a simple idea,” Samed explains. “I wanted to establish Entrepreneurship Clubs in high schools across Istanbul. I believed that by providing young people with the tools and resources to develop their entrepreneurial skills, we could empower them to create their own opportunities and make a positive impact on their communities.”

The success of the High School Entrepreneurship Club concept inspired Samed to continue his work in this field. He went on to establish other initiatives focused on youth empowerment, sustainable urban development, and zero waste, which led him to astounding heights, namely, being honored to serve as a Special Advisor to the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT).

In this role, Samed is able to work on a global scale to promote sustainable urban development and zero-waste initiatives. A dedicated advocate for sustainable urban development, Samed collaborates closely with United Nations member states. His expertise is instrumental in supporting urban planning efforts, particularly within Central Asian countries. Through strategic partnerships and collaboration, he strengthens the relationship between member states and UN-HABITAT, paving the way for a more sustainable future for all.

“I am continually inspired by the young people I meet and the work they are doing to create a better future,” he goes on to say. “I believe that entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for change, and I am committed to supporting young people in their endeavors to make a positive impact on the world.”

Elected as the Chairman of the Youth Assembly of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 2014, Ağırbaş also presided over the Youth Assembly of the Turkish Union of Municipalities and the Youth Working Group of the World Humanitarian Summit. He played an active role in the organization of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Turkey and coordinated the official Youth Pre-Forum during the WHS, where he chaired a drafting committee to author and adopt the Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action.

As the Government of Turkey’s youth representative to the Habitat III summit, organized every 20 years by the United Nations, he participated in various international events held by the UN, OECD, and EU as a speaker and a moderator. He has attended numerous national and international training, research events, and seminars. He has been granted many national and international awards for his active contribution to youth, entrepreneurship, and education.

This journey to greatness hasn’t always been easy for Samed. Growing up in an underprivileged community, he had limited access to resources and opportunities that were readily available to his peers from more affluent backgrounds. This often created a sense of doubt and insecurity about his ability to achieve his goals. Instead of wallowing in this, he sought out mentors and role models who could provide him with guidance and support. 

Coming from a vocational high school, Samed also faced social stigmas and stereotypes that questioned his academic abilities and potential for success. To counter those negative perceptions, he chose to focus on demonstrating his accomplishments and achievements, proving his capabilities beyond the limitations imposed by stereotypes.

Currently, Samed Agirbas was deemed worthy of receiving UN-HABITAT Special Citation 2023.

Some notable examples of UN-HABITAT Special Citation recipients include:

  • 2023: Samed Ağırbaş, an entrepreneur and advisor, for his contributions to youth entrepreneurship, leadership in global diplomacy, education, and sustainable urban development.
  • 2022: Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian author, urban theorist, and activist, for her groundbreaking work on the importance of social capital and lively streets in creating successful cities.
  • 2021: Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for her work on planting trees and empowering communities to improve their livelihoods and environments.
  • 2020: Michael Bloomberg, the 108th mayor of New York City, for his leadership in promoting sustainable urban development, including initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve public transportation.

As we watch Samed flourish in this chosen path, we can see that he brings a unique perspective to this world as someone who has personally experienced the challenges and opportunities of growing up in an underprivileged community and thriving regardless.

This firsthand experience allows him to connect with young people from diverse backgrounds and provide them with insights and guidance that are rooted in empathy and understanding. Samed is well deserving candidate and honoree, as he continues to share his experiences and ideas for growth and development.