Women get support to fight poverty

Women get support to fight poverty

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Women get support to fight poverty

Successful microloan receivers, including fisher Gülbahar Uçar (sitting) pose with Turkcell executives during the presentation of a new campaign in this company photo. AnCompany photo

Gülbahar Uçar lives in Dicle in the southwestern province of Diyarbakır, where after learning how to make fishing nets from her father as a child and getting married she decided to dive into the fishing business with her husband. Yet the couple had no capital to start their business and began searching for ways to launch their business without the necessary funds. When Uçar first heard about micro-financing from her neighbors, she used the first credit of 500 Turkish Liras she took out to buy the necessary materials to make and sell fishing nets. In 2010 on her third lending she was able to buy a boat for both catching and selling fish. Now the budding entrepreneur needs more lending to buy a shop to sell her fish at.

Helping Uçar is now a merely a click away as Turkey’s largest mobile operator has made it possible to donate or lend from handsets through online as well as other payments options, including mobile payments and with credit cards. The stories of Uçar and other microfinance users, together with the information about their businesses and how much more credit they need can be found online at a website that enables lenders to send their financial contributions with a just a click of the mouse.

With a little help

Technology and poverty are not words that go together well. Yet, Turkcell has embarked on bringing technology to the service of those fighting poverty.

Turkcell is now collaborating with a microfinance institution to help women within the low-income bracket, who are eager to set up or expand their business with very little financial support. The partnership shortens the gap between lenders and low-income earning women.

The concept of micro-financing was introduced to Turkey in 2003 by the Turkish Foundation for Waste Production (TİSVA), who have been providing loans to poor and low–income people with no access to financial services like bank credits.

“We are now reaching out to 55,000 women, while we have 65,000 members, which means 10,000 are waiting for funding,” said Aziz Akgül the director of TİSVA. “Help by donation is not sustainable.
Donations should be only valid for elderly and handicaps. Bu we need lending for sustainability. We need to have activities that will generate funding,” he said at a press conference organized to introduce the “Women Power to the Economy,” campaign. The campaign is the first of its kind globally where an operator collaborates with a microfinance institution to launch a social lending, enabling people who want to support poor women by lending money via online and mobile payments.

“This is a development campaign by mobile phones. This is an important step to abolish poverty,” said Akgül. The campaign does not only facilitate life for the lenders but aims at doing the same at the other end of the receiving line. The mobile marketplace platform will enable women to market their products to a larger audience through Turkey via Turkcell’s mobile announcement infrastructure, according to Koray Öztürkler, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Turkcell.

The campaign aims at reducing physical cash transactions during the granting and collection of microcredit process with the help of mobile technologies. Within this model through mobile technology solutions that Turkcell developed, entrepreneurs will have secure access to financial services through their smartphones, while developing money management awareness through the use of mobile phones.

Pointing to the fact that only 26 percent of the 55,000 microfinance user have a phone, Öztürkler said low-income women will be given mobile phones at affordable prices. Akgül did admit that making microfinance users familiar with technology could prove difficult at the beginning. But the campaign will have smartphone training for beginners, as well as mobile training on sales marketing, communications and financial literacy via Turkcell’s mobile education infrastructure.