Supporting women who run businesses in Turkey

By Lucia Sconosciuto

Supporting women who run businesses in Turkey

EBRD, EU and Turkey help finance credit lines and business advice for female entrepreneurs

Over 12,000 Turkish small companies led by women have boosted their business with a loan from one of the five credit lines available through commercial banks under the EBRD Finance and Advice for Women in Business Programme.

The Programme is designed to provide female entrepreneurs across Turkey with finance and know-how support as well as opportunities for training, mentoring and networking with peers.

Women in Business in the country is worth up to €338 million and is supported by the European Union and the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Employment Agency İŞKUR.

Since 2014 the Programme has been responding to the needs uncovered by a survey in which Turkish women entrepreneurs identified limited access to finance and limited chances to receive advice as the top obstacles to develop their business.

Jean-Patrick Marquet, EBRD Managing Director for Turkey, said: : “The EBRD focuses on building inclusive and competitive economies, in which women are empowered to participate to their fullest potential in the growth of those economies. The Bank’s Women in Business programmes active across the EBRD regions promote exactly this goal.”

In Turkey it has been particularly successful in reaching out to companies operating in remote areas, where small businesses struggle to develop.

So far, €110 million, representing 68 per cent of the total portfolio disbursed, have been lent to companies outside the main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey’s economic centres.

One of them is Reyhan Pekdiker’s company, Reymer Tekstil, which is based in Bartin, on the Black Sea. It produces textile and garments, has been in business for 20 years and has 210 employees. Textile is among the top industries in the Turkish economy and accounts for a significant contribution to the country’s GDP and large share of exports, which reaches markets such as Italy, Russia and Germany.

One of Reymer Tekstil clients is the Inditex Group – behind brands such as Zara, Massimo Dutti and Oysho. This is because Ms Pekdiker’s company is one of the few manufacturers in Turkey that meets all their production and quality standards.

Thanks to tailored business advice, Ms Pekdiker’s company increased financial transparency, adopted leaner manufacturing techniques, improved planning of daily operations and modernised production lines.

The company gained bargaining power vis-à-vis their large corporate customer and employee turnover rate dropped significantly. This also resulted in a 25 per cent increase in turnover.

A great success of the Women in Business Programme in Turkey has been its capacity to reach out to first time borrowers and start-ups, representing 50 per cent of all the loans disbursed so far.

Among them is Gülcan Yıldız, 32, who embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure in 2016 by opening a restaurant and catering service in Çanakkale, on the Dardanelles Strait.

Although the company was only a start-up with weak financials and no credit history, she obtained a loan from one of the partner banks of the programme to renew the machinery and equipment of the restaurant with no collateral and favourable pricing.

Ms Yıldız said: “As a fresh entrepreneur, I urge women entrepreneurs both to be courageous in what they do best and improve themselves further in every possible way to become more competitive and self-confident in business life.”

With finance and know-how support, that is exactly what the EBRD’s Women in Business programme is doing across Turkey.