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EBRD, EU and Turkish government support for female entrepreneurs tops €300 million

By Olga Rosca

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Nurten Gümüşsoy, a traditional bread baker in Kızılcahamam, Central Anatolia, grew her business with an EBRD loan which she received via İşbank.

Türkçe olarak

Over 15,000 women have been helped to grow their businesses

Over 15,000 women entrepreneurs across Turkey have been helped to grow their businesses under a programme spearheaded by the EBRD, the European Union and the Turkish government.

A total of 14,400 women-led firms across Turkey have benefited to date from affordable loans via key local banks. In addition, 340 companies have benefited from advisory services and coaching from local and international experts. Almost 1,000 businesswomen have received training in key entrepreneurial skills and taken part in networking and mentoring opportunities.

The EBRD, the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR), the EU Delegation to Turkey and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security discussed the positive impact of the joint Finance and Advice for Women in Business programme at an event in Ankara today. 

The one-day conference brought together public officials, leading players in the financial sector, representatives of the business community and civil society organisations that are actively promoting women’s entrepreneurship.

In 2014, the EBRD made an ambitious commitment to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey, pledging €300 million in dedicated credit lines to local banks for on-lending to companies run by women.

In Turkey, only 30 per cent of women participate in the workforce, compared with 70 per cent of men. Women running their own businesses find it particularly hard to access affordable financing. With access to finance a key obstacle, women generally tend to borrow from friends and family rather than from a formal financial institution.

In order to create opportunities for women-led businesses to gain affordable financing from local banks, the EBRD partnered with five key Turkish lenders – Garantibank, QNB Finansbank, TEB, Isbank and Vakıfbank.

Through their extensive branch networks, loans averaging €15,000 were provided to 14,400 companies in 79 out of 81 Turkish provinces. Two-thirds of the financing provided to date has been channelled to firms outside the large metropolitan areas of Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara.

The EU and the Turkish government have joined the effort, with €38 million in grant funding. Donor funds enabled partner banks to make adjustments necessary to better serve the women’s banking market. One of these features is first-loss risk cover, which makes loans less risky and therefore more affordable.

Funds from the EU and the Turkish government have also helped connect 340 women-led firms in 42 Turkish provinces to local consultants and coaches and international advisers who have helped them grow their businesses and enabled training and mentoring opportunities. Advisory services alone have helped create 800 new jobs, with many companies reporting a substantial increase in turnover.

EBRD Managing Director for Turkey, Arvid Tuerkner, said: “We are extremely proud of the results we have achieved through this unique programme. The EBRD has now extended the planned €300 million to five Turkish lenders and we applaud Garantibank, QNB Finansbank, TEB, Isbank and Vakıfbank for the impressive work they have done to respond to the needs of female entrepreneurs. This highly successful programme, combining loans, advisory, training and mentoring, is also a wonderful example of how international institutions, local authorities and the private sector can join forces to deliver impact. As we see continuous demand from women-led businesses, we will spare no effort to ensure that the programme continues.”

Head of the EU Delegation Ambassador Christian Berger added: “Women's economic independence is critical for gender equality and a prosperous society. The economy absolutely needs more women in the labour market. This project has proven that if women have better access to finance, they not only make a positive impact on their own business but also on their environment by creating new jobs. It has also demonstrated that women's untapped potential can easily be unlocked with the correct interventions, even if these women are newcomers to the market. We trust that the Turkish authorities will sustain these achievements.”

İŞKUR Deputy General Manager Cafer Uzunkaya commented: “It is important that we dedicate more effort to increasing women’s participation in the labour market, both as employees and employers. İŞKUR always prioritises women, young people and disabled people in its policies, and tackles unemployment, the skills mismatch and the lack of vocational qualifications. This programme, with its innovative, comprehensive and integrated tools, is a unique market leader, providing support to women in their business and personal development alike.”

Since it was pioneered in Turkey, the Finance and Advice for Women in Business Women programme has been rolled out to 16 other countries where the EBRD invests. 

The EBRD is a major investor in Turkey. To date, the Bank has invested over €9.5 billion in various sectors of Turkey’s economy, with almost all investments in the private sector. In 2017, the Bank signed 30 projects worth almost €1 billion and expects to exceed €1.5 billion in investments this year.

Creating opportunities for those who cannot access affordable financing, including female entrepreneurs, refugees, and companies in more remote regions, is a priority for the EBRD in Turkey.

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