The Women and Democracy Association participated in the 66th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in a panel entitled “Economic Resilience with the Participation of Women: Women’s Entrepreneurship in Turkey in Every Aspect”.

The panel, which was moderated by Mrs. Melek Cevahiroğlu Ömür, a Member of the Board of Directors of KADEM, featured Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB) Vice President Mr. Bilal Kendirci; RoofStacks – COO Ms. Esra Soylu; ASSALAM Founding President Dr. Hatice Çolak Ali; 5th Women in Innovation Project Finalist and AGON Founding Partner Ms. Aleyna Yıldız; and Saitabat Village Women’s Solidarity Association President Ms. Sermin Cakalıoğlu.

In the panel, which was organized as a side event at the 66th UN CSW, women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey was discussed with the participation of successful entrepreneurs in the fields of economics, social and digital entrepreneurship.

Bilal Kendirci, Vice President of KOSGEB, spoke first: “A loan volume of 407 Million TL has been created for approximately 8 thousand women entrepreneurs since 2019”. He elaborated on KOSGEB’s support for women entrepreneurs through figures: “Within the scope of the Qualified Personnel Employment Support under the Business Development Support Program, 17,722 women were employed between 2018 and 2021. The total amount of support paid was approximately 226 Million TL.” Since 2009, KOSGEB has been an important source for women’s entrepreneurship by providing training and consultancy the country as a whole.

Secondly, Ms. Esra Soylu who is the Co-Founder of RoofStacks Company, took the floor and emphasized that “I think women, pave the way for women and this creates a pyramid effect in organizations. As visibility increases with successful role models, mental barriers disappear. However, this takes time. It isn’t something that can be resolved in a day. Women have an instinctive tendency to fight. We don’t give up easily; we don’t avoid confrontation. Our fighting spirit is the dominant feature in every period of our lives.”

Another panelist, Ms. Sermin Cakalıoğlu, President of Saitabat Women’s Solidarity Association, said that “The most important element in our work is to keep culture and women alive. At our association, we try to ensure that women living in rural areas gain economic freedom and self-confidence… Our organization and persistence have turned our efforts into success. Where there is justice, things will always work out all right. Justice is the underlying element of all our endeavors. Thus, we always prosper.”

Then, Dr. Hatice Çolak Ali President of Assalam Foundation said, “We are working for lifelong quality education for Africans. We do not distinguish between men and women at kindergarten or vocational school. The reason we give special attention to women is because they are the mothers of children. Social enterprises and associations are full of women entrepreneurs. There are barely any men here. Therefore, as women, we better understand women’s language. Being a woman on the basis of Assalam has turned into a benefit for me.” Dr. Çolak-Ali concluded her speech with the following words: “Women produce something, and we sell these products at our cafes in Turkey and Zanzibar, and all the income returns to them. Therefore, ours is a slightly more hybrid model. Our general motivation was to pursue this model.”

Finally, Ms. Aleyna Yıldız Founding Partner of AGON, one of the finalists of Women in Innovation, KADEM’s project that supports women entrepreneurs, said, “For those who expect a business idea from women entrepreneurs who are generally more maternal or who meet the needs of their fellow women, a high-tech, multidisciplinary business idea has had an extraordinary impact.” “With the institutionalization of our enterprise, I have come to better understand what it means to be a woman in business life. Support for women entrepreneurs is increasing day by day. This allows us to adapt and hold on to the entrepreneurship ecosystem more easily.”

In the panel, which was organized as a side event at the 66th UN CSW, women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey was discussed with the participation of successful entrepreneurs in the fields of economics and social and digital entrepreneurship. In addition, public-sector and civil-society support was also included by way of example.

End of the programme, a video prepared with images from 32 women’s cooperatives, of which KADEM is the founder and supporter, was shown to the world through the UN with colorful examples of women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey.

Links to KADEM’s cooperative video played at the UN panel:

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