Young ‘social entrepreneurs’ hope to help transform society

Young ‘social entrepreneurs’ hope to help transform society

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Young ‘social entrepreneurs’ hope to help transform society

A customer is seen using the book vending machine. A total of 1,689 books, with a discount of at least 40 percent, have been sold in seven months, says Yavuz Çakır, the name behind the project.

Ten young Turkish “social entrepreneurs” will be honored for their contribution to “social justice” today, by a joint platform of Istanbul Bilgi University, the International Youth Foundation, the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation and the Turkish Education Volunteers Foundation (TEGV).

Turkey has become more familiar with the word “innovation” thanks to the economic growth the country has undergone in recent years, but adding the word “social” makes a big difference to many lives in Turkey, a number of those awarded at the ceremony said.

“When the spirit of entrepreneurship meets the awareness of social injustice, social innovation comes,” said Suat Özçağdaş, co-founder of the Istanbul-based Social Innovation Center (SIM).

The center was founded in 2011 to assist young people with ideas about how to solve social problems, according to Özçağdaş, adding that SIM had been monitoring projects and popularizing social innovation studies in the country through universities.

“Social innovation is a remedy for youth unemployment and many social problems. Changing ordinary ways of problem-solving methods in an institutional way our goal,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Some of the “social entrepreneurs” to be awarded tonight and their projects are:

Yavuz Çakır, 23, book vending machine: Yavuz Çakır innovated with snack and beverage vending machines to make an instant book shop that lets people buy cheap books even in bus terminals. Çakır said the books were sold 40 percent cheaper than in book stores. A total of 1,689 books have been sold in seven months, he said.

Abdullah Oskay, 29, ‘You Got the Life Association’: What if professionals who grew up in dorms of the Social Services and Child Protection Agency organized and provided help to the children who are in those dorms now? This is what Oskay’s association does, providing scholarships and career guidance to the children whose shoes they were once in.

Burak Özdemir, 21, Burak Özdemir, a student at Istanbul Technical University, has founded a website that matches people who have talents to “sell” at a reasonable price to people who cannot afford expensive classes. An unemployed woman may be able to give classes on what she knows best – for example, dancing - Özdemir said. 200 people have attended these classes in just a couple of months.

Nazlı Özgan, 23, ‘Leaders of Change’: Nazlı Özgan is the founder of an association called “Leaders of Change,” which targets women from the “middle class” in Turkish universities who are not being supported financially by anyone, as they cannot get scholarships. Özgan said they had trained more than 100 young women in one year to be successful in business life. She said she had learned from her own experience at university when she had no financial support.