EBRD, EU and the Republic of Turkey announce new programme to boost entrepreneurship among women

By Viktorija Melohina

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Turkey have agreed to create a Women in Business Programme – a comprehensive package of financial and technical support for entrepreneurship among women across Turkey.

The programme will be formally launched within the next months.

Despite its rapid economic growth, Turkey ranks just 120th out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2013. Only 29 per cent of women in Turkey active are in the labour market, according to World Bank statistics. This emphasises the importance of involving female entrepreneurs in a wider range of business programmes in Turkey.

The Women in Business programme is a powerful combination of elements designed to facilitate access to finance for women-led businesses. These elements include dedicated financing lines, a credit-enhancement mechanism, technical assistance to help banks better serve this important client segment, and advice to help women grow their businesses.

The EBRD will provide €300 million in credit lines to several commercial banks in Turkey for on-lending to enterprises led by women. The European Union and the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Labour and Social Security will support the programme with €38 million for credit enhancement, advice to small businesses and technical assistance, having a share of 85 percent and 15 percent respectively.

This new financing package follows over €110 million in existing credit lines aimed at women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which the EBRD has provided to Yapi Kredi Bank, Garanti Bank, Isbank and Sekerbank over the past year and a half.

"We are very pleased and honoured that the EU and the Turkish authorities have entrusted us with the design and delivery of this innovative programme, which will strengthen our efforts to facilitate access to finance for woman-led companies. Our experience over the last decade shows that customised support – from tailored advice to courses for developing entrepreneurial skills – can help these businesses deliver outstanding performance,” said Mike Davey, the EBRD’s director for Turkey.

"Women's rights and gender equality are key issues for Turkey's EU membership. Increasing women's participation in the labour market and job creation for women is a major challenge for the country.

The EU is happy to be cooperating with the EBRD and Turkish authorities in this endeavour," said Wolfgang Schlaeger, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation to Turkey.

“We believe that supporting the women entrepreneurship will help to increase the level of welfare of Turkey through encouraging the women in the social and economic life. We are pleased to collaborate with the EBRD in such a noteworthy project for our country during the process of the accession to the EU.” Kamran Kuru, Head of EU Coordination Department for the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Labour and Social Security.