How EBRD partners in Turkey are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

By Olga Rosca

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EBRD lends close to 1 billion Turkish lira to Arcelik, a Koc Group firm

Factories redeployed to produce healthcare supplies

Faced with the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, companies around the world need to ensure business continuity, improve the robustness of their supply chains and develop innovative ways to generate revenue.

In this crisis, firms need to demonstrate utmost resilience, and many also find ways to show solidarity.

Across industries and countries, companies start repurposing production and research and development capabilities, dedicating entire factories to the battle against the new disease.

The business community in Turkey, including many EBRD clients, is delivering a strong response to the crisis and is providing a helping hand to those on the frontline of the fight.

EBRD partner Arcelik, a white goods manufacturer, has partnered with defence firms to speed up the production of ventilators so hospitals can cope with a surge in patients struggling to breathe.

Arcelik has also donated domestic appliances and white goods such as washing machines to over 170 hospitals across Turkey.

Hakan Bulgurlu, the CEO of Arcelik, tweeted: “We are going through rough times. Healthcare workers are on the frontline in this battle. We are doing our best to support our heroes.”

Ford Otosan and Tofas, which like Arcelik are part of the Koc Holding, have switched production lines from manufacturing Ford and Fiat cars to making face shields, visor masks and healthcare equipment such as biological sampling booths and intubation booths.

In happier times, Ecoplas Automotive manufactured plastic components for Toyota, Fiat and Ford. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, it has designed face shields for health workers. This week alone, the firm produced 4,000 devices that have been delivered to hospitals in Istanbul; Bursa, in north-western Turkey; and Bolu, a city situated between Ankara and Istanbul. The company is set to scale up production to 41,000 face shields in the next few days.

In Ankara, a small distributor of mechanical ventilators, Okuman Medikal, is boosting capacity to meet unprecedented demand. The firm is setting up an assembly line and aims to produce up to 100 ventilators daily. The orders are already in: 200 devices for the Turkish Ministry of Health and 150 for export have been requested.

Hülya Imer from Istanbul runs the cosmetic firm Mara. After Turkey identified its first coronavirus patient about three weeks ago, the businesswoman decided to use the full stock of ethanol she had on hand to produce lemon cologne. Made with 80 per cent alcohol, cologne is popular in Turkey for its disinfectant properties.

Supermarkets and food producers too are grappling with increased demand.

Earlier this week, the discount store chain Sok, in which the EBRD is a shareholder, opened an e-commerce platform and started to provide free delivery to customers across Turkey. It aims to employ 5,000 people in 2020.

One of the biggest supermarket chains, Migros, is recruiting 1,000 new employees in the next two weeks to meet burgeoning demand for online sales and delivery service.

Pulses producer Yayla, based in the south-eastern city of Mersin, is working at full capacity and around the clock, to satisfy growing demand. They are also supplying ready-made meals to medical staff in two hospitals in Istanbul.

These are just a few of the many examples of businesses redeploying their capacities to meet society’s immediate needs. As they do their part, firms manifest strong moral fibre, endurance and solidarity. This is what defines the battle against the pandemic. With its Solidarity Package the EBRD has joined this effort and is ready to deploy its support.

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