Female ‘Anatolian tigers’ of Kayseri

Female ‘Anatolian tigers’ of Kayseri

When Anatolian Tigers are mentioned, it should not be only males that come to your mind. 

Together with Güler Sabancı, I had the opportunity to visit the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri, after we visited Malatya. Kayseri welcomed us with its female tigers. 

Güler Sabancı, who is ranked in sixth place in Fortune Magazine’s “Most powerful 50 female businesswomen of the world,” is head of the Executive Committee of Sabancı Holding as well as head of the Board of Trustees at the Sabancı Foundation. 

Ms. Sabancı has a huge share in the numerous successful projects the foundation has implemented nationwide up until today on the education of girls. 

The foundation is providing grants to the United Nations Joint Program (UNJP) “To Promote and Protect Human Rights of Women and Girls.” 

The support the foundation has provided for the three-year joint program covering nine provinces of Turkey totals 2 million dollars.

It is meaningful that the program is starting in Kayseri, at the same time covering Aydın, Edirne, Eskişehir, Maraş, Gaziantep, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kocaeli and Ordu, because the roots of the Sabancı family go back to Kayseri.

In Kayseri, the project that was awarded a grant by the foundation was prepared by the “Kayseri Association to Develop Women’s Cooperation” that was founded only four months ago. 

The association has generated a solution for the care of patients with Alzheimer’s, the number of which increases every day in Kayseri. They will train unqualified young women between the ages of 18 and 35 as caretakers for people with the disease. 

I cannot think of a more accurate project than this because even among my close friends and family, I can see how difficult it is to provide care for Alzheimer’s patients. 

The association which will contribute to the employment of women in Kayseri was founded by dermatologist Sema Karaoğlu. The association has about 40 members among whom are doctors, teachers and several industrialist businesswomen who I would define as female Anatolian tigers. 

One of them was the runner-up in a competition organized by Garanti Bank five years ago among successful female entrepreneurs, Sema Elmacıoğlu. She has also been chosen as “the most productive businessperson of the year” by National Productivity Center of Turkey, was in active business life while she was in her 20s as soon as she finished university in a city such as Kayseri known for its conservatism. She was among a world of men in the city’s Organized Industry Zone. 

At the same time, Sema Elmacıoğlu is the first female member of Kayseri Chamber of Industry. She has started felt production for beds and couches in 1997 in her firm Elmacıoğlu Tekstil. She has also collected and recycled textile cuttings. I met her five years ago at Garanti Bank’s competition.

When I saw her again in Kayseri, I learned that she has set up another firm, this time recycling plastic. This young woman, who is exporting 40 percent of her felt production that is used in beds and couches, is also ambitious in her plastic recycling. 

“The felt production capacity of our firm is over 15,000 tons annually. Most probably, in many beds you see around you, there are Elmacıoğlu felts. I believe we will be able to achieve a similar success in plastic recycling,” she said, smiling. 

She sometimes negotiates with bed producers from Saudi Arabia and sometimes visits the site of her new investment which is at the western border city Edirne. She is the mother of three children. 
A very important detail.