Garanti BBVA in collaboration with Ekonomist magazine and the Turkish Association of Female Entrepreneurs (KAGİDER) recently celebrated the 15th edition of the Women Entrepreneur Competition. During the awards ceremony on March 3rd, the winners of the four leading categories were announced.
“Aysun Aktaş Akdogan, founder of ACS Energy, was named ‘Turkey's Female Entrepreneur’ and Aslı Aksoy was ‘The Female Entrepreneur Who Made a Difference in Turkey's Region’ with Elibelinde Agriculture. Also, Bpreg Composite founder Burcu Karaca Ugural became ‘Turkey's Promising Female Entrepreneur’ and Gözde Venedik, who launched the Help Steps app, won the ‘Turkey's Female Social Entrepreneur” award.”
Speaking at the award ceremony, Garanti BBVA CEO Recep Bastuğ recalled that women need to be empowered for countries and societies to develop and make progress. Female empowerment is an issue that is on the agenda not only of Turkey but also of the world.
Thinking back to 2006, the executive remembered how Garanti BBVA “made it its mission to support women to have a greater say in the economy by implementing the Women Entrepreneur Program.” He said this was because they were aware that a society where men and women are not equal in economic and social life could not move forward and that this was a “vital issue”. Bastuğ recalled how when they started out on this path, “the proportion of female entrepreneurs in Turkey was 5%. Today, that proportion in our country has increased to 14% for the total ecosystem.”
Within this framework, the total amount of loans we made to female entrepreneurs last year reached TL 11 billion and this figure is increasing rapidly. “We also position ourselves as a solution partner that takes care of the financial health of female entrepreneurs, guides them, makes their lives easier, and contributes to business processes at the right time with the right advice, guidance and support”, Bastug said. Apart from financing, there is training support for female entrepreneurs to have sustainable and permanent companies and to develop their capacity.
Turkey's Women Entrepreneur Competition has now been in place for 15 years. In its first year, the Female Entrepreneur Competition received just 103 applications; this year however, the number of applications was 42,000. Garanti BBVA’s Bastug spoke of how proud the bank is of the increasing interest and participation every year. “This year, we are witnessing new success stories with new entrepreneurs joining our family. We are also proud and happy that our program for Women Entrepreneurs, especially our competition, inspires and exemplifies the sector and other institutions,” he said.
To date, many female entrepreneurs who have entered the competition have supported the employment of other women while growing their business and expanding their sphere of influence with projects that provide social benefits.
The fact that many of the initiatives that made it to the final this year focus on the environment and sustainability, in the executive’s opinion, “gives us all great hope for our world’s future.” He congratulated all the female entrepreneurs who won, the finalists and those who entered the competition for their courage. He finished by saying that BBVA Garanti will “continue to work for the development of the ecosystem with our financial and non-financial support for female entrepreneurs, as we have been for 15 years.”