Alea ThompsonChicago, ILSeptember 1, 2016
Name: Hamdi Ulukaya
As a child, Hamdi Ulukaya lived on a dairy farm and helped with the family cheese and yogurt business. Hamdi was worried about his human rights as a Kurdish person in Turkey, so at age 22, he moved to the United States to attend college. Hamdi didn't know any English or anything about the new culture he was entering. Hamdi's father convinced him to begin importing and selling his family's cheese from Turkey, starting a company called Euphrates. The company was barely making any money when Hamdi noticed an old yogurt factory go on sale nearby.
Hamdi had tried American yogurt and found it too sugary and watery-- it was nothing like the Greek yogurt he was used to. In 2005, Hamdi got a loan to buy the yogurt factory, hired a master yogurt maker from Turkey, and spent two years perfecting his Greek yogurt recipe. He named his company Chobani, which means "Shepherd" in Turkish. In just five years, Chobani has made over a billion dollars, has become the top-selling Greek yogurt and the third largest selling yogurt in the country, and now employs over 2,000 people.
In addition to the success of his company, Hamdi Ulukaya has also become famous for his generosity. He gives away 10% of Chobani's profits to international charities, hires refugees to work in his factories, and recently committed to giving Chobani employees shares of the company-- some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Click here to download Mawi Learning's ELL Heroes: 7 ELLs Who Are Changing the World workbook. This free resource was created to inspire ELL students to become the superheroes they are meant to be.