Turkey’s Changemakers: ‘Bee-like’ Entrepreneurs are On Their Way
A total of 207 individuals attended beekeeping courses.The latest episode of “Turkey’s Changemakers” features Asst. Prof. Dr. Meral Kekeçoğlu, who helped enhance beekeeping activities in the Yığılca district of the northwestern Düzce province through establishing the Düzce University Beekeeping Research, Development and Application Center.
Upon completing her doctoral thesis on bee genetics and studying bees in 56 different regions of Turkey, Meral Kekeçoğlu discovered a special type of bee in the Yığılca district. She scientifically proved that Yığılca bees are highly productive in honey-making due to the length of their legs and wings. Subsequently, she moved to Düzce and established the Düzce University Beekeeping Research, Development and Application Center with the support of the district governorship, the municipality and other public and private organizations.
When Meral Kekeçoğlu first came to Düzce in 2008, there were 30 families who made a living on beekeeping. Believing in Yığılca’s potential, she initiated a beekeeping project called “Together, We Can Achieve More.“ Kekeçoğlu organized meetings and courses to inform locals about beekeeping methods. She also visited women in villages were unable to attend courses personally; for other villagers, she offered beekeeping courses in mosques, coffee shops and elementary schools.
She recognized the need for a centralized education system for beekeeping, and initiated the establishment of an education center. In co-operation with beekeepers and the Düzce University, she established an education center in Yığılca that serves as a gathering place for beekeepers. A ‘Honey Production Forest’ was established in order to support the feeding of bees. Kekeçoğlu also encouraged women and persons with disabilities to participate in beekeeping activities.
A total of 207 individuals attended beekeeping courses; 70 villagers, of whom 13 were women, received beekeeping certificates. As a result of three years of Kekeçoğlu’s Changemaking efforts, 108 families now make a living on beekeeping.
Meral Kekeçoğlu’s success was honored the first place in European Commission’s annual European Enterprise Awards in 2011. A total number of 399 projects from 29 countries competed in the competition, and “Together, We Can Achieve More” got first place in the “Developing the Entrepreneurial Spirit” section.