Boost in women entrepreneurs
According to the statistical data provided in the “Factbook 2013” on the OECD’s environment, economy and social fields, Turkey ranks the lowest among OECD countries in female employment.
The average female employment for the year 2011 was 56.7 percent. In Turkey this figure is only 27.8 percent, in other words less than half it.
However, the OECD’s “Factbook 2013” has a remarkable finding for Turkey.
Even though we rank low in women’s employment, in the rate of self-employed women we rank first among OECD countries with 48.4 percent.
No matter what you say, it is a grave dilemma and also a sign of how successful a distance we have covered on the road of female entrepreneurship.
No doubt it is the policies supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) set up by 38 female entrepreneurs led by the head of the executive committee of Otacı, Meltem Kurtsan, in 2002 that have played a major role in this as well as the increase in the accessibility of microcredit for women.
A woman who encounters several obstacles and difficulties in working life somehow finds a way to set up her own business. As a result, a positive atmosphere is created in the country that encourages women in entrepreneurship.
Taking this opportunity, I want to mention two female entrepreneurs I met a few days apart.
One is Roys Güreli, only in her 30s, who is selling baby products online; the other is Bedriye Hülya, who was able to open B-Fit fitness centers, centers that facilitate exercise for women below middle class, all around Turkey with a franchise model in a short period like five years.
Güreli was an assistant to Turkey’s leading industry corporation Borusan’s CEO Agah Uğur for three years. Her life changed when she attended Stanford University for her post-graduate degree.
Inspired by the new generation young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who invested in e-commerce, when she returned to Turkey, Güreli set up the website annelutfen.com selling baby products. She was able to attract the attention of international funds while she was at Stanford. She is now heading the baby website, which leads in Turkey with 10,000 products.
In parallel with the rapid growth of e-commerce, her annelutfen.com site is also growing. Uğur, who was her boss yesterday, is today one of her partners.
Hülya, on the other hand, has recently been listed among the social entrepreneurs of 2013 by the Schwab Foundation set up Klaus Schwab, the boss of the World Economic Forum. In her own words, Hülya was able to make a “miracle.”
As a matter of fact, with her fitness centers opened from Istanbul to Şırnak she is enabling women to enjoy the benefits of sports which otherwise were totally under male hegemony with all-male pool halls and football fields. She also encourages women in entrepreneurship. Hülya studied management and psychology and she offers franchising opportunities only to women in every corner of Turkey you can think of.
Hence, the number of B-Fit gyms launched by women has reached 220. The number of women visiting these centers is nearing 100,000.
Before the Schwab Foundation prize, Hülya was also awarded by Endeavor and Ashoka. She also launched a new concept at the beginning of this year, “Muzipo Kids,” only for kids. Muzipo Kids, which facilitates children’s exercise, will grow with the franchise model just like B-Fit.
Hülya’s next dream is opening vocational schools that would teach women the lessons of entrepreneurship.
This will also happen, absolutely.