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EBRD President pledges €600 million in new financing for Turkish women-led firms

By Olga Rosca

[Photo ©️Pervin Akarsu]

Pervin Akarsu's firm Akmeda Medikal manufactures disposable medical textile in Turkey. She is among 20,000 women benefitting from the EBRD's flagship Women in Business programme.

  • EBRD to channel €600 million through Turkish banks for on-lending to women-led firms
  • Bank keen to forge partnerships to narrow funding gap for female entrepreneurs
  • Women in Business programme backed by the European Union and Turkey

Reinforcing its commitment to women’s empowerment and participation in the labour force, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is making available €600 million in new financing for Turkish women entrepreneurs. The funds will be channelled through local banks and lent to eligible women-run businesses under the Bank’s expanded Women in Business programme.

EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said on a visit to Turkey: “Gender equality is a principal element in the promotion of sound business and the advancement of sustainable growth. It is especially pertinent in the countries where the EBRD invests, where access to finance is often holding women back from running or growing their businesses. Working with our strong partner financial institutions, the EBRD is determined to narrow the funding gap for female entrepreneurs and to help Turkey unleash the power of its women.”

Denizbank, a key Turkish lender, has already received a US$ 50 million EBRD investment to be lent on to businesswomen. Several more local financial institutions are expected to follow suit.

Under the programme, women-led businesses will benefit from risk sharing through the Turkish Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF) and the Ministry of Treasury and Finance. In addition, the European Union is supporting the initiative with grant funding.

The Women in Business programme was launched in 2014 to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Turkey. At that time, only 31 per cent of women participated in the labour force. In the following three years alone, the EBRD provided €300 million in loans to five Turkish banks. In an innovative approach, the EBRD combined financing, backed by technical advice for local financial institutions and directly engaged with women entrepreneurs through training, advisory services, mentoring and networking. As a result, 20,000 women entrepreneurs benefitted across the country.

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Turkey. To date, it has invested €14 billion in the country through 351 projects, with 95 per cent of those in the private sector. The Bank’s portfolio of €7 billion in Turkey is the largest of the 38 economies in which the EBRD invests.

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