About the Project

We believe that great potential for economic and social contribution lies in the hands of Women Entrepreneurs. As KU GlobalAid, we are organizing an initiative to guide Women Entrepreneurs in Erzincan, Turkey to long-term and sustainable business success. We plan to do so using tools such as micro-finance, women’s empowerment seminars, small business education & consultancy, and connectivity through technology.

We believe that relying solely on technical and advisory support is not enough. Raising awareness is a crucial element of our project. In communities and campuses across Turkey, we will be communicating the power and potential in Women Entrepreneurship development.

Our group will arrive in Erzincan April 18-21 to deliver this initiative.

Erzincan

Erzincan is a province located in the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey. Out of its total population of 144.545 people, 48,071 live in villages.

The majority of the people of Erzincan obtain their income through agriculture and animal husbandry. The industries of coppersmithing and weaving are also significantly developed in the region. Turkish rugs and striped fabrics that originate from the area of Eğin are especially popular. As for the copper industry, it carries importance because it allows for the creation of local handiwork, as well as acting as a reflection of Turkish taste and art. Moreover, coppersmithing has a deeply rooted past in Turkish culture, one which has allowed for products such as copper trays, “tea-urns,” water containers and vases to be exported today.

Unfortunately, despite the efforts in maintaining its production, the local crafts and handiworks aren’t receiving the attention they deserve. With the implementation of proper production and marketing strategies, the interest in local handiworks can be increased, consequently providing a higher income for locals as well as more employment opportunities.

Erzincan Tulum cheese and roasted chickpeas are among the must-have foods when visiting Erzincan. Also, the fact that irrigated farming is possible allows for the cultivation of various fruit and vegetables. Due to this property, the exportation of vegetables from Erzincan to Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia is possible. Lastly, thanks to the special black grapes that grow in Erzincan, the production of grape molasses and dried fruit rollups are widespread among households.

Women’s Entrepreneurship

As Hillary Clinton recently remarked, “Limiting women’s economic potential is for every country like leaving money on the table. It doesn’t make sense, especially when we are still struggling to grow our way out of the economic crisis.” As it stands, significantly fewer women that men own businesses worldwide. However, encouraging evidence reveals that this trend is reversing and women’s entrepreneurship has even outpaced that of men in several countries.

The empowerment of women is important at all levels of the economy. The United Nation’s 2009 World Survey on Role of Women in Development reports the positive impact that women in positions of decision-making power have made. For example, women elected to the local government in India were found to be more likely to allocate resources to the construction, repair, and provision of public goods. A study of Fortune 500 companies revealed that companies with more women on the board had significantly higher financial returns. And at the individual community level, studies show that women entrepreneurs are not only important job-creators and contributors to a healthy economy, but they are also more likely to reinvest their profits in education, their family and their community.

In a study of 59 global economies, Turkey was found to have the highest gender gap for the ownership of established businesses, with a rate of only one businesswoman to five men owning mature firms. Some factors cited as presenting obstacles to women’s entry into the business world in Turkey include difficulty accessing formal credit structures or informal financial services and a perception of a male-dominated social structure and business networking system. However, women entrepreneurs in Turkey were found to have the lowest fear of failure and the highest expectations for growth, meaning they are highly motivated businesspeople and smart investments overall. In fact, studies have shown that women nearly always pay back microfinance loans and are more accountable for repaying microfinance loans than men. Investing in women is a great way to empower women and help them help their communities.

Biking Across Turkey

A group of members from KU GlobalAid is riding to support the Women Entrepreneurship Erzincan (WEE) project. Their journey has two motivations: First, by biking to Erzincan, spreading their message to local communities along with our route and media sources around Turkey, magnifying the impact of the WEE project. Second, by traveling through and connecting with local youth and communities, developing a relationship with the people we are trying to support, sharing their stories, and learning how better to promote their interests. 8 bikers will ride 1000km from Istanbul to Erzincan, Turkey, from April 4th to 14th, 2013. Along the way, the group will stop at local high schools to share our story with students and learn from them. Through the ride, they hope to attract media attention towards the WEE microfinance project.

Follow their journey at weeproject.tumblr.com

Webinars

KU Global Aid met with domestic women entrepreneurs and small business owners service learning trip to Erzincan, Turkey in April of 2013. These women all own small to medium size enterprises and big hopes for their businesses, but have little-to-no formal business education or training. To meet some of these needs, we provided an on-the-ground business seminar with Koç University Professor, Semih Yalman, and Professors from Erzincan University. During the Seminar, it became very clear that the women we met with were hungry for more knowledge and had a great need for training around specific topic areas. The Office of International Programs, as a follow up to KU Global Aid’s service trip, is trying to meet this need by providing through an innovative and practical business-focused webinar series – ‘Koç Empowers’. The ‘Koç Empowers’ webinars are designed to provide practical knowledge to main women small and medium enterprise owners in order to empower women small enterprise owners across Turkey with the skills and know-how to improve and expand their businesses as they wish.

The ‘Koç Empowers’ Webinar Series serves as a follow-up to the service-learning trip held by the Koç University student group – KU Global Aid and are organized by the Office of International Programs at Koç University. Please click the link below to be taken directly to the YouTube Channel ‘Koç Empowers’ which will host all of the webinars.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjjj7RPgBZ0YJwgJdGj9ebw