7 Turkish women entrepreneurs win top awards
ISTANBULSeven women entrepreneurs have been recognized for their work with top awards as part of the Women Entrepreneurs of Turkey Competition, beating out more than 33,000 applications.
Dress Best Uniforms founder Rana Tülin Yazıcı and Mene Research founder Şule Mene won the top awards at an award ceremony on Oct. 12.
Yazıcı started her company by producing 2,500 uniforms for the Habitat Conference in Istanbul in 1996 in just 25 days. Later, she focused on uniform manufacturing for hotels and hospitals. She then created her own brand, “Dress Best Uniform,” in 2008, opening up to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Her company has an annual production capacity of 75,000 uniforms and is set to soon open a branch in London.
Mene, who has a postgraduate degree from Harvard Business School, was awarded thanks to the success of her international clinic research center in Istanbul. Her center also has offices in the United States and Switzerland, and runs research activities in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Israel.
Meanwhile, Kılçak Farm founder Ayten Çöl and Arcadia Vineyard founder Zeynep Arca Şallıel shared the Woman Entrepreneur Who Makes a Difference in Her Region Award.
Çöl, born in 1949, fought and won a legal battle to gain her family’s lands. After completing her postgraduate education in history in Germany, she returned to the northern province of Amasya and started to run her family’s farm. She registered a number of firsts at the farm, including cultivating the first potatoes in Amasya with natural seeds and using natural methods. “I don’t want anyone who eats my products to have cancer,” she said.
Şallıel is the first wine producer in the northwestern province of Kırklareli in the republican history. At the same time, she works with a development agency and 12 local producers to help put the region on the world’s gastronomy map.
SBS Scientific Bio Solutions founder Aslı Elif Tanuğur was given the Turkey’s Aspiring Woman Entrepreneur Award and Nardane Kuşçu was bestowed with the Women Social Entrepreneur of Turkey Award for her Narköy project, an organic farm with a hotel in northern Turkey.
Tanuğur supplies honey, royal jelly and a glue-like substance produced from tree resin by honeybees from approximately 60,000 beehives. The natural products are sold to the U.S., Canada, Arab countries, South Korea and across Turkey.
Kuşçu established her organic agricultural farm and living center in the northwestern province of Kocaeli in 2007. The buildings on the farm are completely recyclable, and she uses permaculture methods in agricultural production. There are more than 1,200 old seeds, horses, bees and countless numbers of plants on the farm.
Founder of women’s theater group wins special jury award
Ümmiye Koçak, the founder of the Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group in a southern village, won the Special Jury Award. Born in 1957 in the Çelemli village of Adana, Koçak could not continue her education after primary school in a family with 10 siblings. After completing primary school, Koçak read a number of books for self-development, first completing Maxim Gorky’s “The Mother.” Koçak moved to Arslanköy in Mersin after getting married, and she formed the Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group in 2001 to depict the life of women in rural areas to everyone.
The first play staged by the group was “Taş Bademleri” by Remzi Özçelik. Later, the group staged another play composed of their own stories, called “Women’s Outcry.” In 2006, Koçak performed the play “Flowers of Longing” at the Sabancı International Adana Theater Festival. Saving money she earned by working in the field, she wrote and directed a film, “Yün Bebek” (Wool Doll), which was about violence against women and whose premiere was held at the 49th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. Koçak won the Best Eurasian Actress in Cinema Award for “Wool Doll” at the New York Eurasian Film Festival.
While just 113 applications were submitted to the competition in the first year it was organized 10 years ago, the number of submissions has now risen to over 33,000, according to organizers.
The competition is organized by Garanti Bank, the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) and weekly Ekonomist magazine.