Developing and fostering female entrepreneurship is a cornerstone for economic growth. Demonstrating their strong commitment to this goal, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU) and Turkey have supported 6,500 women entrepreneurs under the joint Finance and Advice to Women in Business programme to date.
Launched in 2014 to increase and strengthen the role of female entrepreneurs in the Turkish economy, the programme combines financing through local banks with advisory support, training, mentoring and networking opportunities to give women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Turkey the tools they need to grow.
To date, the EBRD has made available €300 million to finance women-run businesses through Turkish banks. The European Union, the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Turkish Employment Agency İŞKUR are supporting the programme with €38 million for credit enhancement, advice to small businesses and technical assistance for partner banks.
More than 5,000 women-led SMEs have received loans totalling around TL 215 million from Finansbank and TEB, partners in the programme. 70 per cent of financing served the needs of enterprises located outside the large metropolitan areas of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Vakıfbank and İşbank will start on-lending under the programme shortly.
In addition, the programme has supported with business advice 130 women-led enterprises operating in 33 different provinces of Turkey. 71 per cent have reported an average increase in turnover of 40 per cent.
The programme also continues to offer new tools to women entrepreneurs. In 2015, the EBRD launched Business Lens, a self-assessment tool that enables women entrepreneurs to take a closer look at their business performance and identify areas for improvement. The tool assesses company data in seven key business areas such as financial management, marketing and sales, human resources and risk management, and generates a tailor-made report to help define a path to growth. Business Lens is free of charge and can be accessed via the programme’s website, www.kadinisletme.com.
Jean-Patrick Marquet, EBRD Director, Turkey, said: “The success of the programme is a credit to the perseverance and strength of Turkey’s women in business. We will continue working in this area to increase women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey and grow women-led SMEs. On the occasion of International Women’s Day it is more than appropriate to honour the enormous contribution women make to the economy and it our mission to create new opportunities for them.”
Ambassador Hansjörg Haber, Head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, added: “International Women’s Day is a day to remember all women who are facing challenges all over the world. At the same time we are witnessing women’s further empowerment, increased efforts to improve gender equality and the many positive developments these efforts bring. This gives us inspiration to do more, joining efforts with our partners. The Women in Business programme that the EU is co-financing is a concrete example of how we are reaching out to women to grow their businesses and help them to become successful entrepreneurs. I invite women entrepreneurs as well as the participating banks to make the best of the opportunities offered by this programme.”
Mehmet Ali Özkan, Deputy General Manager of İŞKUR: “Our institution is a beneficiary of the Finance and Advice for Women in Business programme, an innovative and holistic model accompanied by financial and technical business development tools to strengthen women employers and promote their inclusive and sustainable growth. This programme is also proof of İŞKUR’s determination to strengthen the role of women in business. Women constitute half of our world and we believe that the world is a happier place if women can contribute to decision-making processes and the labour market. We see women as the driving force of development and growth.”
Turkey is the first country where the EBRD has implemented a Women in Business programme offering access to both finance and advice for women-led SMEs. Similar initiatives have been launched in 16 countries where the Bank invests.
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